Mocked up press shots and doctored TV ads have been an advertising mainstay since the dawn of time. Apple (NAS: AAPL) is no different, and it's now getting sued because of it.

A New Yorker named Frank Fazio picked up an iPhone 4S late last year and isn't so impressed with the real-life performance of Apple's virtual assistant, Siri. Fazio has now filed suit and is starting a class action lawsuit against Cupertino on the basis of false advertising. The suit was filed in California this week, and here are some notable tidbits from the complaint:

5. For example, in many of Apple's television advertisements, individuals are shown using Siri to make appointments, find restaurants, and even learn the guitar chords to classic rock songs or how to tie a tie. In the commercials, all of these tasks are done with ease with the assistance of the iPhone 4S's Siri feature, a represented functionality contrary to the actual operating results and performance of Siri.


8. Defendant's advertisements regarding the Siri feature are fundamentally and designedly false and misleading. Notwithstanding Apple's extensive multi-million dollar advertising campaign showcasing the Siri feature, and the fact that the iPhone 4S is more expensive than the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S's Siri feature does not perform as advertised, rendering the iPhone 4S merely a more expensive iPhone 4.


34. To the detriment of consumers, however, the bulk of Apple's massive marketing and advertising campaign, including its dominant and expansive television advertisements, fail to mention the word "beta" and the fact that Siri is, at best, a work-in-progress. Indeed, it is only through following a series of links within Apple's website, including a footnote at the bottom of a page, that one would learn that Siri is only a work-in-progress.

Source: via The Wall Street Journal.

I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that Apple puts in this disclosure at the end of its commercials for a reason: "Sequences shortened. Coverage varies." I'll leave it to the courts to decide whether that passes legal muster to absolve Cupertino of misleading ads, but in fairness, that fine print looks like a billboard compared with some of the disclaimers you see on TV ads for prescription drugs, whose side effects alone might require another dozen additional cures.

While Siri is a selling point, it's not the only differentiator from the iPhone 4. For example, consider the upgraded 8-megapixel camera from Sony (NYS: SNE) , which displaced the 5-megapixel shooter from OmniVision Technologies (NAS: OVTI) in the iPhone 4. Incidentally, we'll soon find out which of these suppliers scored the new iPad's 5-megapixel sensor design win. Baird thinks the latter did.

Siri is pretty clearly beta software, which is by definition a "work in progress," so the complaint's assertion that a lot of digging is required is, "at best," an exaggeration. The beta moniker is right up top on Apple's Siri page.



That being said, Siri has admittedly gotten worse over time, and even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak prefers his Google (NAS: GOOG) Android device's voice capabilities to Siri. That's even before considering that Google may be taking its voice competition to the next level with a full-fledged "Google Assistant" later this year.

Marketing is marketing. Apple isn't the first to exaggerate a bit, and it won't be the last.

The iPhone has started a revolution, but Apple is hardly the only winner. Some of the winners are hard to see because they're buried deep inside the gadgets. Check out this new special free report on "3 Hidden Winners of the iPhone, iPad, and Android Revolution" that names a handful of companies that provide the crucial components that these gadgets rely on. It's free.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of ARM Holdings, Apple, and OmniVision Technologies, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and Google and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Michael Murdock

Well, the funny thing is that all of the items listed above that SIRI was asked to do, worked just fine for me. I was able to ask it how do I play a chord on guitar, how do I tie a necktie (as how do I tie a tie revealed the current price of Titanium), and then checking my schedule for appointments, making appointments, displaying contact info for people, finding someone in my contacts directory, etc.

Just another suit brought on by someone without patience to learn even the simplest of things which is reframing your questions in such a way as to be understood.

Even RAJ in Big Bang Theory was able to get SIRI to respond to his accent. She does so very well even when an italian such as myself puts on a fake indian accent, so...I think the guy has issues beyond the phone.


March 23 2012 at 2:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I recently got an iPhone 4s simply because it was the only cell phone I could find that didn't have a MONSTER screen on it, so I could actually fit the thing in my pocket (!) I did find Siri interesting, and no, it does not work "as advertised" on the TV commercials. Sure, you can tell it to send a text to your wife, but you have to "teach" it through various screen prompts who your wife (and all other family members) are. It also doesn't automatically read voice-prompted texts that you dictate to it before sending automatically - it's an extra step you have to tell it to do, and it won't read your emails before it sends no matter how you word it - Siri simply doesn't understand that one at all. If your name is also part of your email address, and you have two or more email addresses stored in the phone - well - forget it; Siri can't even send the email to begin with it you send one to yourself as a reminder. I understand that every new software has a Beta stage, but I have to agree that yes, what you see (and are led to believe) on the TV commercials is not what you really get out of Siri once you get the phone in your hand. It's a toy... a sometimes neat toy to play with, and a way to send basic reminders to yourself or set an alarm clock... but that's about it. Still a toy. I hope Apple does develop it much much further, but for now, they really should chill out on the hype.

March 14 2012 at 12:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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March 13 2012 at 11:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hmm, I don't think it is a Scam, but found it's very interesting!
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March 13 2012 at 11:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply