Siri’s free iPhone app allows users to say commands or ask questions directly into the phone, and then it searches the Web or its partner sites for the information. For example, if a person is looking for Dim Sum, they can ask, “Siri, where can I get Dim Sum around here?” Using geo-tracking technology and a search of OpenTable.com, one of Siri’s partners, the app then replies, “OK, here are some Dim Sum restaurants around here…” and it lists them. The user can scroll through the list, tap the screen and make a reservation.
With event tickets, the app will look up concerts near where the user is located, for instance, and then give out dates, times and ticket information. Currently, Siri uses ticketing information from StubHub, and the user can purchase secondary tickets from their iPhone. A spokesperson for StubHub did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
With the purchase of Siri, Apple could potentially use the technology to spearhead its own ticket sales through the digital ticketing system the company is planning to patent. Apple’s contention is that on mobile devices, like the iPhone, people use search differently. Instead of typing in a query to a traditional search engine, like Google or Bing, iPhone users may prefer the ease using specific voice commands to receive information.
As such, users would be able to speak a few commands and buy tickets while also buying music or other merchandise through Apple’s popular iTunes store. The tickets would be paperless and can be scanned from the phone screen or from another magnetized identification card. Apple has not disclosed its timing for patenting and launching the system.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Web site TechCrunch.com places the Siri acquisition at more then $200 million. “Unlike a search engine it [is] more of a do-engine,” Norman Winarsky, a founder in venture capital firm SRI International, told TechCrunch. “You have a goal-based query plugged into a bunch of [services], and it does the action.”
Apple is not describing what it plans to do with Siri.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not comment on our purpose or plans,” Apple spokesperson Steve Dowling said in a statement.