Ad Age Asks Why Siri Doesn’t Speak Spanish

Siri imageThis week, Ad Age’s Kunur Patel and Laurel Wentz raise a good point: Why did Apple choose not to include a Spanish-language Siri when it launched in October? The company, normally pretty brilliant in its marketing, risks alienating the U.S. ethnic group most likely to buy a smartphone by not launching a Spanish-language component for its voice-recognition software.

“I have several friends who purchased iPhones for family members and then returned them because Siri doesn’t speak Spanish,” they quote one unnamed Hispanic media exec as saying. “At first they thought the phone was broken. Then they said, ‘Siri es una estupida.’ “

Ariel Coro, founder of Tu Tecnología, a multimedia platform to educate Hispanics about technology, told Fox Latino last year that, “the initial supported language for an application many times has to do with the ethnic composition of the founders, how easy they think these features can be implemented, the familiarity of the team with the language and in many cases, available programming resources.” Coro adds that Spanish is a fairly difficult language to interpret for natural voice recognition since there are many variations that sound completely different to voice recognition software.

Fans seem to agree that Apple is probably working out the kinks of a Spanish Siri.

“This was a business choice through and through,” says Ad Age commenter Kathleen Gallagher of Sun Valley, California, “Because once they get the Spanish perfected you know it’s going to over take the Spanish speaking market. One thing’s for sure Apple is not stupid when it comes to technology and controlling the market. Why they had German and French down first may be because those were easier to program since less people speak those languages and there are less variants in the language itself.”

For Apple’s part, they’ve chosen not to comment on the issue of a Spanish Siri specifically, but have said that they will add support for more languages in 2012. Let’s hope Spanish is one of them because, As Ad Age reminds us, Siri was born in California, a state where more than one-third of the population is Hispanic or Latino. She’s got to be Spanish-speaking or she’s one dumb app.