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Apple acquires Siri, developer of personal assistant app for iPhone


Apple has purchased Siri, the maker of a mobile personal assistant application for the iPhone, with the move being characterized as a move that will increase competition with Google.

Apple's purchase was confirmed Wednesday by Robert Scoble, who theorized that the Cupertino, Calif., company might have paid about $200 million to purchase Siri. Previously, Scoble had declared that Siri was "the future of the Web."

"There's a new way to get things done - just ask Siri," the company's official website reads. "No more endless clicking on links and pages to get things done on the Internet. Delegate the work to Siri and relax while Siri takes care of it for you."

In a video demonstration, a user uses Siri to find local Italian food. The search is done with voice, and multiple sources of information are scoured to return results that include reviews, maps, and the ability to share with others via e-mail.

The free application (iTunes link) was also used to obtain a reservation for a restaurant using OpenTable, and to buy tickets for the film "Avatar" in 3D in IMAX. Users on the App Store have given the application an average rating of 3 out of 5 stars.

The software also supports open-ended questions, with one inquiry demonstrated: "What's happening this weekend around here?" The program returned results with events, including concerts and theater.

Voice queries are provided in "natural" English, as one would use in a conversation. The user said "How about San Francisco?" to have the location of the previous search automatically changed.

Scoble said the application is a "very cool personal assistant" that he thinks will play a large part in the future of the mobile Web.

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

The news of another Apple acquisition came soon after The New York Times confirmed that Apple bought chipmaker Intrinsity for an estimated price of $121 million. Though the purchase had been rumored since early April, it was not confirmed until Tuesday.

Siri is the latest in a line of purchases for Apple, which has a massive war chest of more than $40 billion. Earlier this year, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said Apple must "think big" with its money, and that potential acquisitions will see the company taking "big," bold" risks.

Early this year, Apple bought mobile ad firm Quattro Wireless for $275 million. That purchase laid the groundwork for the recently announced iAd platform, set to launch later this year. Apple will offer developers of applications the ability to place unique, dynamic, content-rich advertisements within software released for the App Store for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

And late last year, Apple acquired streaming music service Lala for $85 million. Apple has not yet announced its intent with that purchase, but reports have suggested the company could use talent and technology obtained from the purchase to create a cloud-based iTunes that would allow users to access their purchased content from a number of Internet-connected devices.