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Apple reinforcing macOS, iOS Siri team with acqui-hire of init.ai startup crew

Apple appears to have bought out a Init.ai —a startup focused on machine learning and processing of natural language originally intended to assist in customer service —to enhance Siri in some way.




A report on Wednesday by TechCrunch claimed that Apple bought the Init.ai startup that had software that allowed customer service management to glean more information from users, as well as automating some of the initial data collection.

In a notice on the Init.ai site, the company notes that the employees of the startup were "joining a project that touches the lives of countless people across the world." As a result, the existing service is shuttering on Dec. 16.

Citing sources close to Init.ai, and Apple, TechCrunch believes that at least some of the employees in the company are going to work on Siri, in an unknown capacity. There appears to be no intellectual property transfer, nor does there seem to be a customer migration in place.

LinkedIn data suggests that Init.ai has six employees. Crunchbase lists an undisclosed amount of first-round funding from six venture capital funds.

Keith Brisson, one of the founders, wrote an blog post in 2016 suggesting that Apple's WWDC proclamations around Siri from that year were "simultaneously exciting, disappointing, and stunningly predictable."

"Entering a market without a clear way to outcompete would be uncharted and precarious territory for Apple. So, for now, Apple needs to prevent that conversational interaction developing into a battleground on which it is ill equipped to compete," wrote Brisson. "That is why Siri, Messages, and iMessage are so limited."

AppleInsider is not able to confirm the acquisition, and Apple has not issued any statement regarding the matter. It also has not as of yet responded to the reports with its typical response that it does not comment on speculation regarding acquisitions.