Apple Buys Siri: Largest Mashup Acquisition Ever

Adam DuVander
Apr. 28 2010, 05:42PM EDT

Based on a filing with the FTC, Robert Scoble broke the news that Apple bought Siri and its voice-driven personal assistant. The iPhone app, which we covered in February, uses over 35 APIs to find the exact data the user seeks. With a price rumored at $200M, this is by far the most paid for a mashup.

When we talked to Siri before the initial launch of its iPhone app, CEO Dag Kittlaus called Siri a "click reduction machine." You can see a beta version in the video embedded below. One of the examples, movie times, shows Siri's promise, as it understands a deeper meaning to the queries (ie, "funny movies" becomes "comedies").

The sale to Apple shows the computer manufacturer understands the power and potential of its iPhone, the only platform that Siri currently supports. As ReadWriteWeb points out, "it is probably safe to say that we won't see Siri for Android anytime soon."

Why Apple? Siri claimed to be based on $200M in research and development. So, Cupertino couldn't easily duplicate the technology. The developer time would also be extensive. For roughly the same price, it gets a finished product now.

Apple bought Siri for its intellectual property. However, some have lumped voice recognition in. That, like much of the data provided to Siri, is an API. The crux of the tool is taking textual commands and converting it to meaning. Siri planned to provide that service as an API. Just as there won't be a Siri for Android, it's safe to expect the API won't come, either.

The sale price is still a guess at this point, but it makes sense. Firstly, there's the research and development costs, but much of that was likely in academic grants. Still, the company raised $24M in venture capital and had potentially significant revenue streams from affiliate programs.

We've covered other mashup acquisitions in the past. In 2007 WeatherBonk was acquired by Weather Channel and Google bought up Panoramio.

Adam DuVander Hi! I'm Developer Communications Director for SendGrid and former Executive Editor of ProgrammableWeb. I currently serve as a Contributing Editor. If you have API news, or are interested in writing for ProgrammableWeb, please contact editor@programmableweb.com Though I'm a fan of anything API-related, my particular interest is in mapping. I've published a how-to book, Map Scripting 101, to get anyone started making maps on websites. In a not-so-distant past life I wrote for Wired and Webmonkey.

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