Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm.

Actually, Apple’s Siri is only a small threat to Google

SiriSiri may well be Apple’s entry into the search industry, and some Siri functions may indeed disintermediate Google in mobile search queries.

But that shouldn’t have a large impact on Google’s business. It’s not really a “serious threat,” as Fortune contributor Kevin Kelleher argues. (Via Henry Blodget.)

Why not? Because iOS search queries are just a fraction of Google’s overall queries. Because Google’s own Android is very big, and in phone sales, is already bigger than iOS. And because even if all iOS searches go through Siri — which they probably won’t — many are still being sent to Google’s search engine. (And it would be a huge challenge for Apple to build a web search engine that’s better than Google’s.)

One prediction: Last week, Sanford Bernstein analyst Carlos Kirjner estimated “the potential negative impact of Siri on Google’s overall revenues at less than 5% of 2016 revenues, even in the worst case scenario for Google.” That is, if Siri claims all future iOS search queries and it never sends a single search query to any of Google’s services — an unlikely scenario.

Of course, predicting something that far out with any certainty is nearly impossible. But I think that a 5% impact is a lot likelier than, say, 25% or 50%.

Is Siri good for Google? Probably not, as it’s teaching people a new search behavior that Google doesn’t control. But it’s probably not very dangerous, either. And all the more reason for Google to focus on improving and controlling Android, and other growth and diversification opportunities.

Also: How does Google make money?