The idea of a genie in the form of AI that can do anything a personal assistant can do and some took a step closer to reality with the launch of an app for the iPhone. San Jose's Mercury News has an article that reports on how Siri, a San Jose
company, announced on May 27th that it would offer an "intelligent agent"
for Apple's iPhone that would "be able to find movie
theaters, book restaurant reservations and airline flights, buy from online retail sites and even answer trivia questions like "How
many calories are in a banana," all by understanding spoken commands.
The paper quotes Dag Kittlaus, CEO of Siri,
which emerged from stealth mode to announce the product, as saying that "The
future of search isn't search. It is a conversation with someone you
trust." In a demonstration the CEO asking SIri "I want to see Star Trek" and within
milliseconds the phone displays a result that shows a nearby theater
where the movie is playing. If needed he could have click on the
result and Siri would buy the ticket for him. Quite nifty and could just as easily point to hotels in the neighborhood of the user.
Others have tried AI, or at least claimed to have done so including Rearden Commerce's Rearden Personal Assistant but the product, arguably falls short in terms of restricting users to what's "loaded up" on Rearden. For instance, if users had a preference to use Open Table as opposed to Zagat they are likely to have a problem as the PA only allows for the latter. Nevertheless, Rearden is on a tear to raise new money and expand the platform to have a larger universe for its business clients.
With consumers able to home into their choice of hotel, airline, restaurant or car rental based on an enormous universe, it seems like distribution channels are in for a shake-up, yet again, if AI really takes off.