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Apple's Steve Jobs wasn't a fan of the name 'Siri'

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs didn't particularly like the name "Siri" when he acquired the company behind the personal assistant software, but he failed to come up with what he thought was a better option.

The new details on the late CEO came from a speech given this week by Dag Kittlaus, one of the co-founders of Siri. Yoni Heisler of NetworkWorld was in attendance for the talk, and was informed that "Siri" is Norwegian for "beautiful woman who leads you to victory."

"I worked with a lady named Siri in Norway and wanted to name my daughter Siri and the domain was available," Kittlaus explained. "And also consumer companies need to focus on the fact that the name is easy to spell, easy to say."

Apple acquired Siri in April of 2010 for a rumored $200 million. The software was originally a free item on the iPhone App Store.

After the acquisition, Jobs wasn't sold on the Siri name, but Kittlaus tried to convince the Apple co-founder otherwise. Though Jobs was apparently never fully satisfied with the product name, Kittlaus said he failed to come up with a superior option, so he stuck with "Siri."




Kittlaus also revealed that he was unexpectedly summoned by Jobs to his Cupertino, Calif., home soon after the original Siri application launched on the App Store. There, Jobs had a three-hour chat with him by the fireplace about the future.

"(Apple is) patient — they don't jump on anything until they feel they can go after something new, and he felt that we cracked it," Kittlaus explained. "So that was his attraction (to Siri)."

Kittlaus eventually left Apple last October following the launch of the iPhone 4S, having served as CEO of Siri since 2007 and head of Apple's speech recognition team since April of 2010. His departure from Apple was described as "amicable."

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 50
Also could sound like Yes Siree!
post #3 of 50
The "cracked it!" remark, is more likely in reference to the APPLE TV SET that they're rumored to be developing.

Hopefully Apple sticks with the vision Steve Jobs gave them. Any deviation from it wouldn't be wise. (ie: Apple Tv UI)
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post #4 of 50
How long must we suffer these "Steve didn't like insert_product_name_here" stories? Anyone who's read his biography knows that if someone with conviction was willing to stand up to Steve, Steve was willing to be proven wrong, and actually respected the hell out of the person for doing it and for standing up to authority. Just because he didn't initially like something doesn't mean it was automatically the wrong choice, just that he wanted to cover every possibility to make sure nothing better was out there.
post #5 of 50
And he also didn't like the name "Macintosh" and failed to come up with something better. He can be wrong.
post #6 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by MobileMe View Post

The "cracked it!" remark, is more likely in reference to the APPLE TV SET that they're rumored to be developing.

Hopefully Apple sticks with the vision Steve Jobs gave them. Any deviation from it wouldn't be wise. (ie: Apple Tv UI)

It could refer to anything - there is nothing specific about the "cracked it" statement that specifically identifies anything. People are projecting a TV, but there is no evidence that is what Jobs is talking about. Plus, what if Jobs was wrong and he didn't know it and others do? What if the "solution" is something that doesn't end up practical? It may never even see the light of day.

I suggest we shouldn't look into the meaning of what is essentially a tease statement.
post #7 of 50
I wondered why they'd stuck with "Siri" when it was rumoured to be called "Assistant" but it's obvious now they needed an actual name for it. It wouldn't have so easily become part of popular culture if it was named "iPhone Assistant" or whatever. I do think they should've used the same voice around the world though, to maintain a similar identity, it's kind of weird that Siri is female in the US and male in the UK. But "Siri" is now a brand in its own right and that's partly down to giving it a proper name, and therefore a personality, rather than simply listing it as a feature. (I thought the name was derived from SRI, though, where Siri was developed.)
post #8 of 50
It kind of seems that one of the defining characteristics of Steve Jobs is that he disliked everything at one time or other. In some ways, that was a great strength -- he could always see how things could be better and so never became complacent.

Regarding Siri -- I really like the name. Not only is it easy to say, but there's something about it that seems both friendly and kind of exotic (at least it's exotic for a guy who grew up in the middle of Kansas).
post #9 of 50
Steve probably wanted no name.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #10 of 50
Better than bicycle.
post #11 of 50
He didn't like 'iMac' either. Had to be talked into it.

This is why Apple will survive and thrive without Steve. He set the boat on a great course and depended on a great crew to work it.

The crew is his living legacy.
post #12 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Steve probably wanted no name.

Isn't he dead? Yet?
post #13 of 50
They should have named it 'Ballmer' based upon how it works.
post #14 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by hittrj01 View Post

How long must we suffer these "Steve didn't like insert_product_name_here" stories?

no joke.

The man is dead. What he liked, didn't like etc is beside the point. Time to move on.

The only thing more annoying than these stories are folks jumping on "Steve would never have approved this" for anything that releases after his death that they don't like. Everything we see for the next 5 years is stuff that was likely in the works before he went on medical leave much less died so in fact, yes he likely did approve it.

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(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

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post #15 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

It kind of seems that one of the defining characteristics of Steve Jobs is that he disliked everything at one time or other. In some ways, that was a great strength -- he could always see how things could be better and so never became complacent.

There may have been times even that he said he didn't like something to make the person argue their case. Why? To force them to ask themselves if it was the best that could be done and not just that they were making that claim because they liked their keen idea so much. Sometimes it wasn't and they realized it, sometimes they made a solid argument and proved it was the best. But no one was doing whatever simply because they thought it was cool etc.

A tactic other companies could do with from time to time

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

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post #16 of 50
but but but all these articles that Jobs ran Apple single handed......does not compute....

Maybe, just maybe, the guy did actually listen to people.
post #17 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post


Maybe, just maybe, the guy did actually listen to people.

I've seen scant evidence that is the case.
post #18 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

I've seen scant evidence that is the case.

This is plain evidence that you didn't read the biography.
post #19 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by MobileMe View Post

The "cracked it!" remark, is more likely in reference to the APPLE TV SET that they're rumored to be developing.

Or it's in reference to anything imaginable, as 'cracked it' can apply in any situation.

Quote:
Hopefully Apple sticks with the vision Steve Jobs gave them. Any deviation from it wouldn't be wise. (i.e.: Apple TV UI)

Oh, good! You seem to have proof that the current UI wasn't something Steve wanted. If you'd be so kind, present that proof here and in the proper thread arguing about the design, because that keeps coming up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post

And he also didn't like the name "Macintosh" and failed to come up with something better. He can be wrong.

Bicycle only wasn't better because it didn't have a ring to it that matched the company name.

Quote:
Originally Posted by poke View Post

I wondered why they'd stuck with "Siri" when it was rumored to be called "Assistant" but it's obvious now they needed an actual name for it.

I think they should've given it a name that was at least a backronym. Like GLaDOS, HAL, and the like.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbtinc View Post

Isn't he dead? Yet?

I don't see the problem in his post; his tense is correct.

Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

But no one was doing whatever simply because they thought it was cool etc.

A tactic other companies could do with from time to time

You know, it does seem that that's what many of them do, doesn't it? Particularly some of the new-agey stuff that Microsoft has put out. And idiotic designs like the HP touchscreen computers and the Gateway One (remember that?).

Originally Posted by Marvin

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Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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post #20 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

This is plain evidence that you didn't read the biography.

Wrong again. I read the bio.

I saw scant evidence that Steve listened to others.
post #21 of 50
A lot of the Apple Store model was not how Steve initially saw it going.

Professional vs Consumers
Guru's help bench

So we need to be a bit cautious on Steve's early reactions versus his having time to digest and go for walks to think about.

I have super regard for Steve's thinking and his attention to detail and user experience and aesthetics but also to the team he created, trained, and let run Apple [until his very untimely death] to be original and have similar impact.
post #22 of 50
It is rather unusual for Apple to acquire a company and product and then not change the name after 2 years of development and integration that took its capabilities far past when the standalone app could do. I wish they would have changed it if only to have prevented the "I had Siri back in 2008 working fine on my iPhone 3G comments."

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post #23 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"Siri" is Norwegian for "beautiful woman who leads you to victory."


Seems they didn't take into account what it means in Japanese.

"buttocks"

http://jisho.org/
Type "siri" into the Japanese box.
post #24 of 50
I think the name Sharon Apple would have been awesome. The AI from Macross Plus.
post #25 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by rednaxela View Post

Seems they didn't take into account what it means in Japanese.

"buttocks"

http://jisho.org/
Type "siri" into the Japanese box.

Just like Nintendo didn't take into account the adolescent sense of humor in America when they came out with the Wii, yet it's still easy to spell and easy to remember, so it still works.
post #26 of 50
They should have used Ahnold's voice and could have called it 'Governator'.
post #27 of 50
Steve would have called it LISA if he had the chance...

"Language Input Services Assistant"

In honor of his daughter Lisa, of course...he named the Mac XL the "Lisa" in 1983, after all...
post #28 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by WardC View Post

In honor of his daughter Lisa, of course...he named the Mac XL the "Lisa" in 1983, after all...

Er, you have that backward.

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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post #29 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

Wrong again. I read the bio.

I saw scant evidence that Steve listened to others.

You read it wrong.
post #30 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by MobileMe View Post

The "cracked it!" remark, is more likely in reference to the APPLE TV SET that they're rumored to be developing.


That makes no sense. This is a quote from Kittlaus regarding his sense of what Jobs felt about Siri. It's not even a literal Jobs quote about anything.
post #31 of 50
You can't be Siri-ous.
post #32 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by bill42 View Post

You can't be Siri-ous.

"I am Sirious. And don't call me Steve."

Wait…

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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post #33 of 50
Anyway, it worked out. Siri is a great name. I thought it had more to do with SRI, but it's nice to know it has mythic resonance in Norway.

I am still amazed at the experience of talking to my phone and having it respond in a semi-human way. And the way she says "while" in two syllables, as in "try again in a little while"—so damn precious. It gets me every time, and I don't even mind that she "can't take any requests right now," which happens more than once a day. It's no wonder to me that Siri's not on the iPad or the iPhone 4, though the noise-canceling must be the other big factor. I can use it in my ancient Volkswagen and she still gets what i'm saying.
post #34 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

Wrong again. I read the bio.

I saw scant evidence that Steve listened to others.

Just one of many examples: Jobs didn't want the iPod to work with Windows computers; didn't want to create iTunes for Windows. Everyone stoop up to him (as he expected them to when people believed in what they were saying) and he capitulated.

Was Jobs always right? No, of course not.

Did Jobs create an atmosphere of creative tension where great ideas usual won out? Yes.

Did he "listen to others?" Duh.
post #35 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

Wrong again. I read the bio.

I saw scant evidence that Steve listened to others.

don't forget how Jobs listened to Ron Johnson in the layout of the Apple store with the Genius Bars.
post #36 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by malax View Post

Just one of many examples: Jobs didn't want the iPod to work with Windows computers; didn't want to create iTunes for Windows. Everyone stoop up to him (as he expected them to when people believed in what they were saying) and he capitulated.

Was Jobs always right? No, of course not.

Did Jobs create an atmosphere of creative tension where great ideas usual won out? Yes.

Did he "listen to others?" Duh.

I like that phrase, "atmosphere of creative tension." That's exactly what his prickliness produced, apparently, for those who could stand up to it.

Also, the way he would claim others' ideas as his own: he was still listening, just not acknowledging in the usual way. I think he probably knew that others knew that he was playing a game.

I sometimes imagine that he and Larry Ellison went over the techniques of Samurai and Zen masters on the good-natured infliction of pain, disgrace and humiliation as teaching tools.
post #37 of 50
What's in a name? In the U.S. Kelly, Chris and Dana are all examples of names used by men and women.
post #38 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post

And he also didn't like the name "Macintosh" and failed to come up with something better. He can be wrong.

Ah, but look at the Apple product lineup now and the Apple website. Steve all but eliminated the "Macintosh" name from Apple, so he never warmed up to the name either.

I like the name Siri, and now that I know the Norwegian definition of the name I like it even more (of course I am of Scandinavian ancestry and thus admit my bias). However, with the passing of Steve, the Siri name is liable to be with us for a very long time, unlikely to be eliminated.
post #39 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

don't forget how Jobs listened to Ron Johnson in the layout of the Apple store with the Genius Bars.

Or, more importantly, he didn't want apps on the iPhone. From the biography:

Board member Art Levinson was among those pushing to allow iPhone apps. I called him a half dozen times to lobby for the potential of the apps, he recalled. If Apple didnt allow them, indeed encourage them, another smartphone maker would, giving itself a competitive advantage. Apples marketing chief Phil Schiller agreed. I couldnt imagine that we would create something as powerful as the iPhone and not empower developers to make lots of apps, he recalled. I knew customers would love them. From the outside, the venture capitalist John Doerr argued that permitting apps would spawn a profusion of new entrepreneurs who would create new services.
Jobs at first quashed the discussion, partly because he felt his team did not have*the bandwidth to figure out all of the complexities that would be involved in policing third-party app developers. He wanted focus. So he didnt want to talk about it, said Schiller. But as soon as the iPhone was launched, he was willing to hear the debate. Every time the conversation happened, Steve seemed a little more open, said Levinson. There were freewheeling discussions at four board meetings.
Jobs soon figured out that there was a way to have the best of both worlds. He would permit outsiders to write apps, but they would have to meet strict standards, be tested and approved by Apple, and be sold only through the iTunes Store. It was a way to reap the advantage of empowering thousands of software developers while retaining enough control to protect the integrity of the iPhone and the simplicity of the customer experience. It was an absolutely magical solution that hit the sweet spot, said Levinson. It gave us the benefits of openness while retaining end-to-end control
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post #40 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

I am still amazed at the experience of talking to my phone and having it respond in a semi-human way. And the way she says "while" in two syllables,

Like my wife, on both counts (US regional accents die hard)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

and I don't even mind that she "can't take any requests right now," which happens more than once a day..

All three counts! : )
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