The Real Reason Siri Isn’t On The iPhone 4

Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant app is an iPhone 4S exclusive, and a big selling point for the new phone.

We assumed that Siri is an iPhone 4S exclusive due to hardware constraints, but this weekend, we saw Siri ported to the iPhone 4.

In the video demo, you can see that Siri appears to run fine on the iPhone 4’s older hardware.

(Read: iPhone 4S Review)

This revelation has led many to ask why they can’t use Siri on their iPhone 4. While performance boosts on the A5 processor or special microphones may have something to do with the decision, that’s likely half the story.

It’s also possible that Apple has intentionally kept Siri off the iPhone 4 — even if it runs good, in order to create price discrimination among their product line.

Companies may intentionally keep features off of a certain model of a device, even if it could support it, in order to create different prices and different products that appeal to various consumers.

We have seen this in the past with printers, that had their performance limited to create various prices and models, and more recently with DVD players that had playback modes withheld just to create different product, at a different price. R. Preston McAfee explores this phenomena in a paper title Pricing Damaged Goods, and even offers a formula to help companies decide when it is beneficial to offer a crippled product.

We can already see Apple’s intentional product pricing, which offers an iPhone at all the major smartphone prices; free, $99, $199, $299 and $399.

iPhone models
iPhone Model Differences Are Intentional

The iPhone 4S certainly has a number of internal improvements, but Siri is certainly one of the most tangible benefits of purchasing the iPhone 4S over the iPhone 4. Yes, the camera is improved and there are a number of other spec bumps — but many average consumers aren’t concerned with specs — just performance and perceived benefits.

So, even if Siri is proven to work on the iPhone 4 without a significant problem, Apple has a number of additional reasons to keep Siri off of the iPhone 4.

12 Comments

  1. Devin Jones

    10/17/2011 at 11:38 am

    People who upgrade to the 4S from The 4 are plain stupid. Who would really waste hundreds on a bit faster processor, 4 more megapixels and siri, which most people are more than likely gonna use the first few days and pretty much forget about it after a while?

    Reply

    • Dan

      10/17/2011 at 7:19 pm

      Have you used the iPhone 4S? No? Then try holding off on the name calling and judgmental nonsense. I have a 4. I have a 4S. They are different devices and the overall experience is radically different. 

      As far as using it for a day or two and then now… if you set up Siri properly you will use it… and never look back.

      Reply

      • Devin HotHands Jones

        10/18/2011 at 1:26 am

        You’re either a rich snob with money to throw away or an apple fan boy. No one in their right mind upgrades to another iphone with very few changes but those two kind of people.

        Reply

        • Ryancmckinney

          10/18/2011 at 5:21 pm

          I upgraded my as well. Strictly due to the fact I didn’t get service at my job before but now I do.

          Reply

      • Sina Hassan

        10/22/2011 at 1:07 pm

         dan you sound like a faggot dude

        Reply

  2. Mark Horgan

    10/17/2011 at 12:13 pm

    Along similar lines – the pricing for different capacity models isn’t probably directly related to the price of flash memory. Does 48GB of flash memory cost $200/£200? Could it be a way to target different types of consumers? The not-so-rich guy goes for the 16GB model while the guy who has more cash than he can spend goes for the 64GB model (which is £700 here in the UK, unsubsidised). Tim Harford explains it quite well in the book, “The Undercover Economist”. Crippling the iPhone 4 is similar to the way supermarkets package their budget range in a particular way so it won’t cannibalise their standard range.

    Reply

  3. Anonymous

    10/17/2011 at 4:01 pm

    another reason could  be the backend…there were reports of Siri not being available today, imagine if iPhone 4’s & 4s’s were attacking the servers…especially when you have sites like http://www.shitthatsirisays.tumblr.com

    Reply

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