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Is Apple's Siri an iPhone Data Hog?

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Apple (AAPL) gives the iPhone 4S a personality and, suddenly, it needs to feed.

One-upping Google's (GOOG) Voice Command for the Android, Siri is the virtual assistant for the iPhone 4S which allows for task management and data retrieval based on voice commands. It's become a huge selling point for Apple's latest flagship phone, but Arieso Chief Technology Officer Michael Flanagan thinks it's a huge drain on data.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Flanagan suggested that Siri was responsible for iPhone 4S users to consume nearly twice as much data as iPhone 4 users, and even three times as much as 3GS users. By comparison, a BlackBerry (RIMM) user on the Curve or Bold Touch downloads roughly 20% of the data of an iPhone 4S user.

"The hungry are getting hungrier," Flanagan said. With that in mind, no wonder Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T) have ditched unlimited data plans.

But while it stands to reason that Apple's Siri could be responsible for a surge in data usage, ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes isn't convinced.

Citing relatively low data consumption, Kingsley-Hughes finds that even an abundance of Siri usage won't account for the numbers Flanagan is referencing. "As testing has shown (and this is backed up by data I've collected from Siri users), doing ten or so queries a day over 30-day period (while out of WiFi coverage, obviously) will consume some 20MB," he writes.

Hardly the lion's share of anyone's monthly data usage.

Kingsley-Hughes surmises other reasons that would cause a spike in iPhone 4S users' data consumption. Streaming music through iCloud and iTunes Match could add up to more GBs, as will sharing photos from a higher megapixel camera and enjoying faster CPU speeds. But it could also come down to "New Toy Syndrome" -- people are just poring through all the new features of iOS 5 and, in turn, gobbling up data.

We'll just have to see what Apple does with Siri 2. Maybe then, Sprint (S) will feel the need to completely kill off unlimited data.

(See also: Apple Threatens to Sue Over Another Steve Jobs Doll and Apple Will Become "Uncool" in 2012, Predicts Analyst)

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