When Tim Cook announced the new iPhone last fall, one of the phone’s biggest new features was Siri, a voice-activated personal assistant. While most iPhone users like Siri, it turns out that Steve Jobs wasn’t actually a fan of the software’s name, he just couldn’t think of anything better.
That’s according to Dag Kittlaus, who co-founded Siri. During a keynote yesterday at Technori Pitch, a conference for Chicago-based tech startups, Kittlaus revealed that he had had several conversations with Jobs about Siri’s name. While Jobs was not terribly fond of it, Kittlaus kept insisting that it was a good name. A Norwegian name, Kittlaus says it means “beautiful woman who leads you to victory.” It’s also easy to say and to spell. Jobs was ultimately persuaded to keep the name for the iPhone 4S, partly for the simple reason that he couldn’t top it.
Siri was founded in 2007 by Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer, and Tom Gruber. Kittlaus told the audience in Chicago that he had originally hit upon the name Siri when he worked with a woman by the same name in his native Norway. He decided to give the name to his daughter (though he doesn’t have a daughter yet), and when it came time to name his new company the name was available.
Siri Assistant first hit the App Store as an iPhone app in early 2010. It integrated with a variety of services including Google Maps, OpenTable, and more to allow users to get directions, make restaurant reservations, get movie showtimes and buy tickets, and more. Shortly after Siri went live in the App Store, Kittlaus says Steve Jobs contacted him and invited him to his house. They spent three hours at Jobs’s house talking about the future of Apple and about Siri. In October of that 2010, Apple bought Siri for $200 million. The iPhone 4S debuted in October of 2011, and the original Siri Assitant app went dark just days later.
After Siri’s acquisition by Apple, Kittlaus stayed with the company as CEO of Siri until shortly after the iPhone 4S launched. He left the company on “amicable” terms, moving from Cupertino to Chicago.
What do you think of Siri’s name? Was Jobs right to want to change it, or is it fine as it is? Sound off in the comments.