By Jonathan Browning – Jan 6, 2012
Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s voice recognition software Siri has prompted owners of the iPhone 4S to use almost twice as much data compared with the handset’s predecessor, placing greater pressure on operators, network firm Arieso said.
“Voice is the ultimate human interface,” Arieso Chief Technology Officer Michael Flanagan said in an interview in London. Voice recognition is prompting consumers to use their smartphones’ functions more often, he said. Arieso advises clients such as Vodafone Group Plc (VOD), Telefonica SA (TEF) and Nokia Siemens Networks Oy on how to manage wireless networks.
Apple brought in Siri, dubbed a virtual personal assistant, in its latest iPhone update in October. With a few spoken words, the artificial-intelligence feature helps iPhone users schedule appointments, write text messages and check the local weather. Arieso, based in Atlanta, said it measured more than 1 million subscribers across a single European network in both urban and rural areas, without identifying the operator.
The strain of data-intensive devices may place additional pressure on mobile operators as they build out faster networks. Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. carrier, said this week the number of iPhones it sold doubled to 4.2 million in the fourth quarter.
AT&T Inc (T), which last year lost the exclusive U.S. rights to the iPhone, has been criticized for dropped calls and network coverage among high-use areas such as New York and San Francisco.
A London-based Apple spokesman said he couldn’t immediately comment. The iPhone 4S, the latest update of Apple’s best- selling product, is its first major release since the death of Steve Jobs, who helped guide the company’s product design and marketing.
Apple rose 0.7 percent to $421.14 in New York trading today as of 10:50 a.m.
While the iPhone is the world’s most popular smartphone, Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android software is more widely used, showing up in devices from Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC Corp.
The iPhone 4S’ regular connections with Apple’s servers to synchronize applications including music lists may also contribute to the data load, Flanagan said.
Operators have sought to limit their data tariffs to prevent heavy use as subscribers record high-definition video and images and browse the Internet and play music on their phones. Vodafone, the world’s largest mobile-phone operator, has shifted toward consumption-based billing to protect its network capacity.
Arieso’s research showed that a minority of users account for half of downloaded data. About one percent of the high-use subscribers downloaded half of the data volumes, according to the company. “The hungry are getting hungrier,” Flanagan said.
An average user of Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM)’s latest BlackBerry smartphones, the Curve and the Bold Touch, downloads about 20 percent of the data of an iPhone 4S subscriber, according to Arieso. While RIM compresses data, the company’s traditional business users also use fewer applications beyond e- mail, Flanagan said.
The proliferation of voice command software may accelerate as more manufacturers adopt the technology, Flanagan said. “What makes Apple unique is that they have done it first successfully.”