While it was inevitable that someone would snag this great technology …
The acquisition is being positioned in the trade press such as arstechnica as an attempt to compete with Google and their search capabilities including voice recognition. But that is not where the huge value is hidden. Siri’s secret sauce is determining intention, not the search algorithms or even voice recognition.
Siri uses artificial intelligence to determine intent. Using semantic search a spoken sentence is parsed and context overlaid on the query to return not just a set of links but an action taken on your behalf.
For example “dinner for two on Saturday at 7 pm” Would get you OpenTable restaurants near your current location which have availability on the upcoming Saturday. If you added “in San Francisco” to your query it would have given you restaurants that meet the criteria. With a couple of clicks to choose and confirm, you would have reservations set up.
Where do they go from here?
Apple almost inevitably buys technology companies to use the technology rather than as a blocker for others to get the technology.
The V1 version of the product for iPhone is a fabulously usable product. And the technology holds great expansion potential as more types of activities are integrated beyond the core services offered today – restaurants, movies, events, local businesses, taxis, weather, twitter, reminders, flight status, …
Siri had focused on just the mobile market with their targeted application, Apple does not have the constraints in capital or resources and can take this into the mainstream of their products.
Expect interesting developments.