That was fast. After launching its iPhone app late last year, barely six months ago, and raising approximately $24 million in funding word now comes that Siri has been acquired by Apple. Siri is an "artificial intelligence" platform that manages speech and text input and connects "natural language" requests to actions such as buying movie tickets, getting taxis or making restaurant reservations.
The Siri technology comes out of SRI with funding from DARPA and exists “in the middle,” between the speech recognition and the back end, tied to the third party APIs. There’s a very sophisticated “engine” and algorithm there that enables the service to understand queries and commands such as:
It seeks to move beyond "search results" to their ultimate objective: getting some task accomplished. Indeed in some respects it is/was the ultimate local-mobile application. Now Apple owns it.
In the growing myopia of "Google vs. Apple" coverage people can only see the acquisition as part of some larger "war" between the two companies or an effort to block or thwart the other. However, Siri's technology independently could well have broad application to the iPhone and iPad regardless of the existence of Google or its mobile ambitions. But it doesn't hurt in that horse race either.
Dan Miller has some insightful thoughts and perspective in his post.