A Look at the History of Siri and How it Almost Became an Android Exclusive for Verizon
A few of the details on the the history of Siri, including Steve Jobs' move to contact the company just three weeks after the independent app's launch, have surfaced over the last several years, but The Huffington Post has now published an extensive history of the technology and company that reveals a few other interesting details.
The report outlines how Siri grew out of a Department of Defense project to integrate with 42 different web services to perform its virtual assistant services, many of which were discontinued when Apple scaled back the platform for inclusion in iOS. Apple has been relatively slow to build Siri's feature set back up, but has been making progress on the effort.
Perhaps most interestingly, the report reveals that Siri was very nearly an Android exclusive for Verizon, but the deal was obviously broken when Steve Jobs and Apple moved quickly to acquire Siri.
In the fall of 2009, several months before Apple approached Siri, Verizon had signed a deal with the startup to make Siri a default app on all Android phones set to launch in the new year. When Apple swooped in to buy Siri, it insisted on making the assistant exclusive to Apple devices, and nixed the Verizon deal. In the process, it narrowly avoided seeing Siri become a selling point for smartphones powered by its biggest rival, Google. (Somewhere in the vaults of the wireless giant, there are unreleased commercials touting Siri as an Android add-on.)
The report goes on to discuss some of the challenges faced by Siri at Apple, including difficulties in negotiating partnerships with content providers, Apple's emphasis on broadening access to other countries and languages over pushing the technology forward for a smaller subset of users, and corporate politics that have resulted in the loss of some of Siri's biggest advocates at Apple.
Siri is also facing strong competition from the Android platform of which it was almost a part. Google has moved quickly to develop its own virtual assistant capabilities in the form of Google Now, and many are looking for Apple to step up the pace of improvement with Siri in order to reestablish it in users' minds as a key advantage for Apple as it was touted at its 2011 launch on the iPhone 4S.