Kinect and Siri terrify companies

by Bruce Kasanoff on October 20, 2011

In an earlier post, I described how the vast majority of established companies are at risk being stuck in the Land of Stupid, a bleak wasteland between the few companies who know how to make complex technologies seem like simple magic, and the millions of consumers and small businesses who increasingly expect magic.

Let’s take a closer look at how Siri and a slightly earlier innovation, Kinect for Microsoft’s Xbox 360, reveal how radically customer expectations are changing.

Kinect combined various sensors and language recognition to eliminate the controller altogether. There’s no keyboard, no remote. The unit simply “looks” around the room, gets a sense of the space and identifies the players. If you are one of four players and you leave the room, Kinect knows it was you who left.

Kinect has unleashed a wave of inventive people rushing to figure out what else you can do with a Kinect. The answer turns out to be a lot:

You put something like Kinect into a home or office, and it can map, recreate, or respond to whatever and whoever is there. Yes, the technology is at an early stage, and it’s not perfect. But it is light years ahead of the 99% of companies who still ship complex products with complex instructions and feeble tech support to back it up.

Now along comes Siri, who in the space of a week has taught millions of people to talk to their computer. She’s not perfect either, but she understand most of what I tell her, and suddenly we are talking about phones as though they are sentient beings.

Meanwhile, all these companies stuck in the Land of Stupid expect us to spend 45 seconds listening to phone messages that prompt us to press “9″.

Siri and Kinect are utterly transforming customer expectations, and both are selling beyond all predictions. No products, no technologies have ever spread so fast.

Companies in the Land of Stupid don’t have years to get out. They have months. This, I fear, many don’t understand.

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