Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has claimed that Apple's Siri technology represents a "significant development" in the search market, in an apparent attempt to highlight the numerous alternatives to Google's own search services.
Google is currently being investigated over anti-competitive behaviour in the search market for allegedly favouring its own products over competitors', and having such dominance in the market that other companies cannot compete.
However, Schmidt argued in a letter sent to US senators that Siri is just one example of the way in which technology can innovate at such a speed that Google is continually under threat from new services.
"Apple's Siri is a significant development: a voice-activated means of accessing answers through iPhones that demonstrates the innovations in search," he said.
"Google has many strong competitors and we sometimes fail to anticipate the competitive threat posed by new methods of accessing information."
While Siri is Apple's first search tool, it relies on technology from other sites to deliver results, and Schmidt's claims appear more an attempt to convince senators that Google has rivals than a genuine concern that Apple could affect its core business.
Nevertheless, the statement marks a clear departure from Schmidt's previous claims that Facebook and Apple are not competitors to Google, a statement he admitted is now wrong.
"My statement last September was clearly wrong. The internet is dynamic and has changed significantly. The importance of social networking to consumers' online experiences has changed remarkably, even over the past year," he said.
Schmidt's appearance before the first US senate hearing on Google's search practices led to his denying accusations that the firm "cooked" search results to favour its own products.
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