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Apple Hires Former AltaVista and Amazon Search Exec to Run Siri Unit

NewImageApple has hired William Stasior, a search veteran from Amazon and early search engine AltaVista, to run its Siri unit, according to a report from All Things D.

Stasior was previously in charge of Amazon's A9 unit, the company's worldwide search and search advertising division.
Stasior has an impressive pedigree (you can read his resume and see a really geeky binary image he posted of himself here). The MIT Ph.D. has taught here too and has done stints at Oracle, Netcentives and AltaVista. He came to Amazon in 2003 as its director of search and navigation.

He will now be in charge of Siri, which is Appleā€™s famous voice-activated personal-assistant program. The tech giant acquired Siri in April of 2010 to garner a big stake in voice-activated search.
Apple purchased Siri in April 2010 and launched Siri as a major component of iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S in October 2011. However, two major Siri executives -- Adam Cheyer and Dag Kittlaus have left the company in the past year.

The addition of Stasior, a search expert, to the Siri team could give a hint to where Apple plans to take the product in the future.

Top Rated Comments

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25 months ago

Clearly Apple plans to take down Google and capture all of their profits for itself. Couldn't happen soon enough.

Go Apple!

Lol at someone 'taking down' google. Also lol at cheering for a company.
Rating: 41 Votes
25 months ago
Good because she doesn't understand a damn thing I say.
Rating: 24 Votes
25 months ago
Clearly Apple plans to take down Google and capture all of their profits for itself. Couldn't happen soon enough.

Go Apple!
Rating: 18 Votes
25 months ago
Somewhere in Apple's labs, there's a team designing a search engine.

Apple is purging it's rivals Google and Samsung. A move from Google Maps was critical, albeit not a smooth transition as we saw. Replacing the search engine is the final step, hopefully with a better rollout.

Apple can't continue to rely on it's rivals for key parts of its OS.

Siri is the natural search engine replacement but in a way completely different than a traditional search engine. Ask it a question and it returns an answer, not a bunch of pages where you may or may not find the answer. Ask if for a bunch of pages on a topic and it'll give you the traditional search engine results.

Just as we heard about Apple buying up maps companies and hiring map employees 3 years ago, this is the canary in the coal mine for an Apple search engine built into Siri, maybe in iOS 8 or 9.

EDIT: I've elaborated on this in this post: How Siri will become a dominant search engine (
Rating: 13 Votes
25 months ago

Lol at someone 'taking down' google. Also lol at cheering for a company.

I second his comment.

Go Apple!
Rating: 12 Votes
25 months ago

How about you simply take it a place where it actually works more than 20% of the time in real world situations. Seriously, instead of adding functionality, let's get the "existing" one to work.

I find that it does work pretty well in real world situations.

I wake up, summon Siri to ask her:

"Read my messages" - Siri says: "You have a message from XXXXX: blablabla" Reply?
"Is it cold outside?" - Siri says: "It's about 9 degrees. I don't find that particularly cold"
"Do I need an umbrella?" - Siri says: "It doesn't look like it's going to rain today"
"What's my day look like?" - Siri says: "You have 3 appointments today xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx"

Since I have no appointments in the morning, I tell Siri:
"Wake me up in another hour" - Siri says: "Your alarm is set for 10AM.
Before I go back to bed, I tell Siri:
"Book lunch with Amy at noon" - Siri books it.
"Remind me to take Amy's book with me when I leave" - Siri creates a reminder with a geo-fence.

I think that works remarkably well. Also, if I have facts that I'm looking for, I no longer Google them, I ask Siri. Yesterday when Felix was doing the Stratos jump, I wondered what the speed of sound was. I asked Siri and got a straightforward answer in a Wolfram Alpha card with lots of useful info.

I even deleted my Unit Conversion app and Wiki app because it's just so much easier to ask and get an answer.

Where Siri needs an important improvement is on results speed. It can sometimes take more than 5 to 10 seconds which leaves an awkward pause while you wait for your results. People are impatient these days.

The iPhone 5 has as much processing power as a G5 Mac tower. I think it's time to move speech recognition locally while they can leave question processing and result returns on Apple's servers. This would speed things up considerably.
Rating: 10 Votes
25 months ago

I always thought of Siri as nothing more than a novel gimmick. Is it really as poor as some of you guys have mentioned?

No. It's not "poor" in what it does. It's just limited in what it does. For now...

I ask it the weather all the time. I had it make lunch reservations for me the other day (flawlessly). I was driving down the road last night, asking for sports scores and getting them. Launching apps or getting facts from the web using Siri is a timesaver for me. Turn-by-turn using Siri has worked spectacularly for me, notwithstanding issues others may have experienced. While not specifically Siri based, the ability to dictate into virtually any dialog on my iOS devices has become invaluable.

For anyone with a hint of vision, Siri is an exciting and useful glimpse into how we will all interface with our devices in the fairly near future. And I find value in it now.
Rating: 10 Votes
25 months ago

You know that Siri isn't really a search engine, right?

It's the front end for one. Which is why Apple is hiring a search guy to run Siri. isn't a search engine either. It's the way you interact with the engine that Google has on its servers.
Rating: 9 Votes
25 months ago
It's past time to kick Google to the curb as the default iOS search engine. Sorry guys, but it's insanity to rely on a competitor for such a critical component of your platform.

Lol at someone 'taking down' google. Also lol at cheering for a company.

LOL at Google fanboy deriding fanboyism. :rolleyes:
Rating: 9 Votes
25 months ago
Day 1: Make it work as advertised
Rating: 8 Votes

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