Why Lumia, Siri? The perils of sorting a 27-way smartphone tie

After the kerfuffle over whether Siri believes that the Nokia Lumia 900 is better than her own iPhone 4S, objectivity comes to the rescue, courtesy of the brains at Wolfram Alpha.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read
"Oh, Siri, Siri, you are the best after all." Apple Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

There has been a disturbance of late in the Appledome.

For Siri has been accused of believing that the Nokia Lumia 900 is better than the iPhone 4S in which she resides.

Even though she changed her mind -- some might say mysteriously -- the stain on her character would not go away.

Well, now the vast and objective brains at Wolfram Alpha have churned their cogs in order to put a stop to this nonsense.

I am grateful to Search Engine Land for having the patience and fortitude to listen to Wolfram Alpha's deep and complex analysis.

However, as I understand its gist, the question of the best smartphone in the world came down to a 27-phone tie.

Why is Wolfram Alpha relevant? Well, it seems that Siri was actually outsourcing to Wolfie. She's a busy girl and it's not easy keeping up with all of Samuel L. Jackson's needs.

The Alphanauts, for their part, were having a few issues with tabulating customer reviews. Indeed, they borrowed from Best Buy, and the Nokia Lumia 900 was top because 4 people gave it the full 5 stars, whereas 86 gave the iPhone 4S a 4.7.

This analysis was entirely weighting free. There was no account taken for the number of reviews. Putting the Lumia at the top was merely a courtesy, not an quantitative, definitive answer. And the company has already put measures in place to change this.

Jean Buck, director of content development for Wolfram Alpha, gave a long (really long) explanation to Search Engine Land.

However, the most elemental, elementary error made by Wolfram's machines was that they just gave one answer, when there were actually 27 equals.

As Buck put it: "I believe we were actually showing 27 products with a rating of 5, the iPhone 4s being one of them. But for 'best smartphone,' we returned only the product that appeared at the top. Clearly, if 27 phones returned the same value, we should have listed all of them."

So there you have it. The iPhone 4S is just as good as the Nokia Lumia 900 and 25 other smartphones.

Can we all get along now? Sam Jackson needs a tee-time and another recipe.