Siri: Apple of My Eye

It’s been a busy day of mobile tech news, including the HP acquisition of Palm, and a busy week of conversation around internet privacy, thanks to Facebook’s new privacy controls and Blippy’s credit card snafus. This is why I find today’s announcement that Apple acquired Siri, a natural language virtual assistant currently available as an iPhone app, particularly interesting.

When I first saw the company present at SXSW in March, it was clear that this company, a spinout from SRI International, was onto realizing the promise of personalized data that works FOR individuals, ie, all of us who are creating massive databases in the cloud with each click. Sure, personalization and targeting have been around the web for awhile, but most often it is for the benefit of companies, with incremental utility for individuals. Siri is one of the few companies I have seen that turns this on its head. As PC Magazine noted today:

Users simply type or speak into the phone with a natural language request (“Book me a table at 7:30 PM tonight for two at Il Fornaio” or “Find where ‘Avatar’ is playing in 3D near my office”) and Siri parses the request and interprets it in the context of one or more queries. For the first request, for example, the site would work with OpenTable; for the second, the site could query Google or other sources of information. This will be done both manually and via syncing with existing sources of our personal data such as Facebook profiles, iTunes music lists, and contacts…

By buying Siri, however, Apple has taken a step forward toward entering the search market. Unlike Google or Microsoft, however, Apple hasn’t purchased an underlying search engine, but a metalayer that harnesses other available sources of information.

Imagine the potential of combining location based information, social networks and personal preferences to get highly relevant real time recommendations. Progress in innovation happens from leapfrogging and thinking outside the box — and this acquisition allows Apple to provide personalized, next generation mobile search. Google, Microsoft, your move…

One Reply to “Siri: Apple of My Eye”

  • Jalak-

    Totally agree. IF, and that’s a big if, it works as well as we saw today in the demo, I know it’s going to change how I use the iphone and even think about technology. It’s a new UI. But your thought on the next step of the technology, where it understands our preferences, is insightful.

    Can’t wait to have a Siri / 4square / yelp integration that tells me what my friends think is the best ban mi sandwich in the LES.

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