BREAKING NEWS: Siri bought by Apple

Back in February I said that if you miss Siri you will miss the future of the Web.

Well, Apple did not miss the future of the Web.

According to FTC Apple just purchased Siri.

If previous acquisitions by Apple are an indicator this would have gone for 8x to 10x investments, which would have put the price at about $200 million. Since this company/product just came out this year (I named it one of the startups to watch in 2010) it would have had to go for that amount or more to get the investors interested in selling so soon.

I remember when I first saw Siri I told the CEO that they would get into a bidding war with someone bidding vs. Google. I would not be shocked to hear that happened.

Great to see one of my favorite startups of the year going so quickly. Wow.

Why is this strategic for Apple?

Because Siri hooked up APIs from around the world in a very cool personal assistant. It was one of the first apps I loaded on my iPad. Why? Because you could talk to it with your voice and have it do things from getting you a taxi to having it buy movie tickets for you.

The value in unlocked is huge. This shows Apple is very willing to buy its way into the new mobile web and the new API-driven web. This also could be a major cornerstone in how it competes with Google.


  1. The main aspects of Siri are 1) it is an iphone app 2) voice input 2) backend API integration. While the API integration is cool, there is not a whole lot of IP there. The NLP part of their stack will have the most IP. The app itself is not a big deal. Nuance is the provider for voice and Siri has no real value without voice. So expect AAPL to tie up with Nuance soon.

  2. “BREAKING NEWS” seems a bit dramatic. Siri's UI is unique and polished, but I never found a daily use for it. Will be interesting to see how Apple integrates their tech.

    1. Siri doesn’t really own much IP – they have a license to a $150MM research-based AI technology for certain applications.

      Basically, it’s a $150MM technology license that can direct you to (limited) restaurant reservations or a cab through 3rd Party APIs. It’s a gateway. Now, if they open up the platform to App Developers, we’ll be able to do some new, slightly tricky things with our Apps. And, Apple didn’t want Android to have this (though, to some degree, Android already does or could easily). There will be a range of Patent wars against SIRI also, for linking certain embedded mobile applications together.

      SIRI thought they were going to make money from paid Apps and from the partners they acquire info from (restaurant reservation systems; cabs, etc.) — they didn’t, and they were running out of cash. So, they got lucky.

      The license to the technology they promote has some value. We’ll see what Apple do with it. Still $150MM in technology to call a cab?

      Or, perhaps there’s something in the SIRI licensed tech that will hunt down lost iPhone prototypes? Maybe it’s a really clever technology?

  3. I expected Apple to be aggressive with this one since they are in such a void in this space. Not anymore. Very smart and necessary purchase by Apple.

  4. If you watched the video you'd see that this was way better than anything that's existed before. It used APIs and has a unique method of negotiating with the APIs for best available price and service. But save us all time and watch the video. Nothing else exists that I've seen that competes with it.

    1. It does not help with “best available” since it goes through very limited 3rd Party selections for the User. If there are 100 restaurants on a block, it may have access to 10 of them (through a restaurant reservation system). Sorry, I’d rather use tools tied into Google Maps to get a more complete picture.

      Nothing is packaged quite like SIRI, but, we achieve the same thing, often with better results, through our existing tools. And, it’s still easier to speed dial a cab, than to open an App.

      There are some really interesting uses of AI for mobile coming out. SIRI is actually a dated technology.

  5. Wow! Robert, I agree. I've been praising Siri to all my friends… and I don't even own an iPhone :) This is a a huge play for Apple in the API-connected web, and along with their LaLa acquisition, it shows that they know that their hardware will be commodified and that they need to hedge their bets by becoming a cloud services provider like Google et. al. The question is whether they will effectively integrate these service and their other offerings (iTunes) into one compelling cloud service. Time will tell.

  6. Siri's got potential, but works only about half the time for me. It either can't find what I'm looking for, or gets it wrong at least 50 percent of the time. (This is on an iPhone 3G.) Google's search via voice feature, as well as that of Dragon Dictation, is much better.

    If Apple makes it more robust, it'll be a nice addition to the iPhone OS. But “the future of the Web” is only valid if it, you know, actually works.

  7. What's amazing is all the buzz around this somehow being a move against Google in Search. Even SIRI say they are NOT ABOUT SEARCH.

    From twitter via BackType
    Talked to Siri's board members, who say they are not about search, and were not looking to be bought when Apple called.

    So, what's it really about? Maybe a Talent acquisition? Former Google/Mobile guy, some AI guys? Who knows, but, the tech itself (which, is a license to technology I believe, not owned IP) is not very strong, a bit gimmicky, but linked to an accelerometer, who knows?

  8. It's not about search. I see it as a move against FACEBOOK in the new war to control 3rd party websites by owning all the information about the consumer who uses your portal to access other websites. Facebook has far more intimate information about me than Google, a huge base of 400 million users — and they aspire to be the latter-day AOL. Apple wants to end-run them by making it easier to buy stuff with your phone than with a mouse. It's a very smart move.

  9. “Great to see one of my favorite startups of the year going so quickly”

    How many of your favorite startups, after acquisition, remained your favorite for long?

    Are you *really* sure it's great to see one of your favorites get snapped up?

  10. The Semantic Web Meme Grows

    Wow, it has been a heck of a fortnight for the Sir Tim Berners-Lee dream meme:

    14 days ago, Twitter announced an “annotations” feature for developers that could contain Linked Data (Semantic Web schema).

    7 days ago, Facebook launched “Open Graph” features that use RDFa schema, Semantic Web again.

    Today Apple seems to have made its first public Semantic Web play.

    A veritable Shakespearian semantic “sea change” (from The Tempest). Oh what a brave new world that hath such features in it!

  11. Haven't used this app yet but it sounds really promising! Checking it out now and congrats to everyone over at Siri for getting bought so quick, wow!

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  15. Would be cool if Apple integrated it into their current Voice Search. Don't even have to open an app, just hold down the home button and talk, it finds your contacts, plays a song, or does anything else an API can do.

    Here's the real kicker: Apple opens up the API and lets developers create links to their services… and charge to add them! Users can expand the power of the system by adding fandango for a buck, or facebook for a buck, or twitter, or…

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