Even while Siri is in the hands of relatively few consumers, Apple’s digital assistant looks to have serious potential to change how people use their smartphones, mostly by streamlining the fast-growing smartphone shopping experience both in, near and out of stores. 

Siri, which stands for Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface, is an iPhone app that lets you use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more.  Siri understands what you say, knows what you mean, and even talks back.

According to Apple, Siri uses almost all the built-in apps on iPhone 4S. It writes and sends email messages and texts. It searches the web for anything you need to know. It plays the songs you want to hear, gives you directions, places calls, schedules meetings, etc.

COMPARISON SHOPPING

Data from February 2012, from Catapult Marketing, showed that more than one-third of shoppers have either already used or would be interested in using Siri to compare prices at the shelf, while nearly as many would want Siri to check inventory for them at another store. Even more popular: sending Siri off in search of coupons and deals while the smartphone owner shopped.

Grocery shopping will likely be most affected by Siri and her future competitors, with just under half of respondents saying they had used Siri for this purpose or would be interested in doing so. They also planned to use Siri’s price comparison, list-making and other capabilities to shop for electronics (39%), apparel and home appliances (33% each). Thirty percent weren’t interested in using Siri for shopping.

MOBILE SHOPPING TO INCREASE

These stats come while Siri still has relatively low awareness, let alone usage—the personal assistant is still restricted to just one phone and not even all owners of that phone may yet be versant in Siri’s capabilities. But as more smartphone shoppers continue to upgrade to ever-more-advanced devices and become savvier at using those devices, retailers should expect them to do more mobile comparison shopping in and out of stores. And with a virtual assistant, that mobile shopping will happen more frequently and easily. eMarketer estimates that 68.6 million Americans will use a smartphone to conduct mobile research and browsing activities this year.

[Source:  “What Siri Means for the Future of Mobile Shopping.”  eMarketer/Catapult Marketing.  13 Mar. 2012.  Web.  16 Mar. 2012.]