Apple’s Siri personal assistant feature is at the center of a new lawsuit filed by an iPhone 4S customer last Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, as reported by The Wall Street Journal and discovered by MacRumors.
Plaintiff Frank M. Fazio of Brooklyn, New York has filed the suit on behalf of iPhone 4S owners, claiming that Apple’s iPhone 4S advertising conveys a “misleading and deceptive message” with regard to Siri’s functionality. The lawsuit states:
In many of Apple’s television advertisements, individuals are shown using Siri to make appointments, find restaurants, and even learn the guitar chords to classic rock songs or how to tie a tie. In the commercials, all of these tasks are done with ease with the assistance of the iPhone 4S’s Siri feature, a represented functionality contrary to the actual operating results and performance of Siri.
Apple’s Siri web advertisement.
Mr. Fazio claims Siri’s actual functionality falls far short of Apple’s demonstrated usages: “When Plaintiff asked Siri for directions to a certain place, or to locate a store, Siri either did not understand what Plaintiff was asking, or, after a very long wait time, responded with the wrong answer.” While Siri has worked well for some users, Mr. Fazio is not alone in his disappointment with the service.
From a purely technical perspective, most of the suit’s complaints could be understandably forgiven due to Siri’s continued status as a beta service that is a work-in-progress. Mr. Fazio claims, however, that Apple crossed the line when it began to advertise the incomplete Siri as a major reason to purchase the iPhone 4S and that such a campaign for a service that is known by Apple to be incomplete amounts to misleading and deceptive advertising.
The suit is seeking unspecified damages and a court order to prevent Apple from using additional misleading advertising related to Siri’s functionality. Apple has yet to file a response.