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Apple Acquires Voice-Activated Search Application

Posted on Thursday, April 29th, 2010 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - Featured, Mobile, News

Apple took another step forward into the search market this week by with its acquisition of Siri, a mobile assistant company known for its virtual personal assistant app. Siri  Assistant has been part of the iPhone app family for awhile, but it is believed that Apple’s acquisition of the makers of this software gives the company even more ammo in its ongoing competition with  Google to dominate mobile advertising. Terms of the deal have been disclosed.

Siri  Assistant is a personal assistant application that takes spoken requests from the user—from searching for a restaurant in the neighborhood to finding out the next movie time—and fetches the appropriate results, similar to a search engine query. Siri’s voice-recognition feature first converts the request into text (the inquiry can be in written form as well). Then, the app taps into APIs across the Web to bring back results and/or recommendations.  It can even take this process a step further and reserve a taxi or purchase the movie ticket at the user’s command. Siri’s performance depends heavily on its partners such as WeatherBug, Yelp, MovieTickets.com, Taxi Magic, and Eventful. From Siri’s website:

“Siri works with leading web service providers to deliver answers and actions from trusted brands. For example, when users ask Siri to book a table for two, we partner with OpenTable, the leading restaurant reservation site, to fulfill restaurant reservations. Or, when users ask Siri to call a cab, we work with Taxi Magic, the leading taxi reservation service, to dispatch taxis.”

In essence, Siri’s functionality is simple voice-based search. However, it caters to the iPhone users on-the-go who are looking for immediate and manageable results, not a long list of websites that may not even be in the correct format to be viewed on a mobile device. It also utilizes the iPhone’s GPS feature to produce results that are relevant to the user at that particular time and place. If everything runs smoothly, Siri provides a much easier way to navigate on mobile devices than the traditional mobile search query via Google and Bing. Customer reviews of Siri Assistant reveal that the app can free users from thinking about which particular app to pull up to find certain information, because Siri can pool them all into one. We can only speculate how effective this new acquired technology will be for Apple’s business strategy, but it certainly holds the potential to change the mobile search landscacpe.

About Grace Kobayashi

Grace Kobayashi is a graduate student at the University of Southern California in the Master’s in Human Behavior program She was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, and after graduating from high school, moved to Tokyo to do her undergraduate studies at Waseda University. She is working as an intern for the Client Services team at The Search Agency.

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3 Responses to “Apple Acquires Voice-Activated Search Application”

  1. Alec Green says:

    Wow, a company who’s iPhone app has only been available since February gets purchased for big $$ by Apple. I’m guessing a whole bunch of tiny app developers just gained newfound hope and are trying to position themselves for a similar exit.
    Siri is a great app in its current form but Apple must have much bigger plans for voice-based, location-targeted search. Apparently, the revenue they hope to generate from iAds is just one piece of the pie. Will be interesting to see if and how they set up a new search advertising marketplace on their mobile devices.

  2. frank says:

    I’ve heard Siri is a great app. it’s clear the mobile device is increasingly becoming a common utility for consumers and the definition of local targeting will be very different. take a look at The Gap Scenario – http://battellemedia.com/archives/2010/04/the_gap_scenario

  3. Diego Bolado says:

    I do believe all of the ideas you have presented on your post. They are really convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too quick for newbies. May you please extend them a little from next time? Thank you for the post.


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