Can 'Eyes-Free' Siri Stand the Media Hype?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Of everything announced on Tuesday at Apple's ( AAPL) Worldwide Developers' Conference, three things seem to have generated the strongest and most euphoric reaction:

  • Apple's expected decision to dump Google (GOOG) Maps;
  • The introduction of the next-generation Macbook Pro with Retina Display; and
  • Apple's unveiling of "Eyes-Free" Siri, which, when integrated into an automobile, will allow drivers to work hands-free with an iPhone.
  • With the exception of Business Insider dumping on Apple's map platform every chance it got, the media took the first two points in stride. Apple Maps will do what it does. And, while a truly incredible machine, the Macbook Pro is a bit too high-end to really change the game much more than Apple already has.

    The reaction to "Eyes-Free" Siri, however, has been anything but sane and logical. It's been over the top. As an investor, when you see analysts and the media get giddy, reconsider the hype. The outcome, which we will not see for some time anyway -- at least in the auto -- likely will not live up to it.

    Since WWDC, several people have predicted the death of Pandora ( P) at the hands of "Eyes-Free" Siri. Just yesterday, TheStreet's Richard Saintvilus argued that Siri dealt the ultimate death blow to its pseudo-namesake Sirius XM ( SIRI). And it's impossible to count the number of folks who claim that Ford's ( F) in-vehicle entertainment system, Sync, is dead on arrival.

    Pandora and Sirius XM are essentially in the same situation. The argument here is that "Eyes-Free" Siri will expand the range of choices you have while in the car. Why listen to Pandora or Sirius XM (or get traffic reports via satellite radio) when Siri provides the ability to use any app as well as Apple's own navigation features? Now, you can even voice control iTunes via your connected iPhone. All of a sudden, everything becomes obsolete. Or so the meme goes.

    So, with Siri coming to your steering wheel, default choices such as satellite radio and an integrated Pandora become meaningless? That's too simple. And it's simply not true, particularly because you already use your iPhone to access streaming and other apps anyway.

    First, it comes down to content. You can use Siri to access both Sirius XM and Pandora. In fact, you could argue that the upgraded, "Eyes-Free" interface might actually increase the time you spend with those apps. At the end of the day, if Sirius XM and Pandora both continue to provide a service that their users find compelling, Siri will do nothing but further enable their success, just like the iPhone did for Pandora when it first came out.

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