Apple has acquired Siri, a mobile “assistant” app maker, a Siri representative has confirmed.
This puts Apple in even closer competition with Google, as we believe that mobile assistant apps are one of the many ways that search will look on mobile platforms.
So, in a sense, Apple just got into the search business. (More on that topic here.)
Here’s how Siri describes itself: “You can ask Siri to find a romantic place for dinner, tell you what’s playing at a local jazz club or get tickets to a movie for Saturday night.”
Basically, you type stuff into your phone, and it connects to APIs across the Web to bring you a result.
Sure sounds like search. (Without having to scrape and index the web, build a formal search engine, etc.)
How much did Apple spend? Siri reps wouldn’t comment, but given how early the company sold, and how much money it raised — $24 million — we assume that somewhere between $100 million to $200 million could be possible. However, Google only spent $50 million on Aardvark, whose software solves a sorta-similar problem.
Siri’s exec team — CEO Dag Kittlaus, VP of Engineering Adam Cheyer, CTO Tom Gruber, and VP Product Gummi Hafsteinsson — includes veterans of the telecom, mobile, artificial intelligence, and semantic technologies. Hafsteinsson used to work at Google. (Wonder how long it’ll take before the BlackBerry on their website goes away.)
The acquisition was listed in a Federal Trade Commission document (PDF) as a deal granted early termination under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act.
We first read about the deal in a tweet from Robert Scoble.
Siri’s investors include Menlo Ventures, Morgenthaler Ventures, The Li Ka Shing Foundation, and SRI International.
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