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OFF BEAT: Lawsuit says Siri not as smart as Apple claims


In many of Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple Corp.’s television advertisements about its new iPhone 4S, individuals are shown using the smartphone’s new voice-activated assistant feature Siri to make appointments, find restaurants and even learn the guitar chords to classic rock songs.

But if iPhone 4S users ask Siri what she thinks about a recently filed lawsuit accusing Apple of false advertising, she probably won’t understand the question, much less direct them to the complaint, according to disgruntled customer Frank M. Fazio, who filed his complaint March 6 in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif.

The suit, which seeks class action status on behalf of “all persons in the United States who purchased, for use and not resale, an Apple iPhone 4S,” alleges violations of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition Law, the California Business and Professions Code, breach of express warranty, intentional misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation.

“Through an extensive and comprehensive nationwide marketing campaign, Defendant has conveyed the misleading and deceptive message that the iPhone 4S’s Siri feature, a so-called voice-activated assistant, performs useful functions and otherwise works as advertised,” the suit asserts. However, “the iPhone 4S’s Siri feature does not perform as advertised, rendering the iPhone 4S merely a more expensive iPhone 4.”

For example, when Mr. Fazio “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,” the suit states.

The suit also claims Apple knew that Siri would not perform as advertised based on a footnote on the company’s website stating that “Siri is currently in beta and we’ll continue to improve it over time.”

“Siri is, at best, a work in progress,” according to the suit, which seeks unspecified compensatory and statutory damages, restitution, and all other forms of monetary and nonmonetary relief recoverable under California law.

Apple did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.