Network World’s Yoni Heisler attended Technori Pitch in Chicago yesterday, and related a story about Siri that not only sheds new light on the name of Apple’s intelligent assistant, but on Steve Jobs’ low opinion of the name.
Technori Pitch is a monthly meeting where Chicago-based startups can tout what they’re working on, and yesterday’s speaker was none other than Dag Kittlaus — one of the founders of Siri. The company was bought out by Apple in April of 2010 for US$200 million, and of course Siri became the outstanding feature of the iPhone 4S.
We had always heard that the Siri name was a play on SRI International, the contract research institute founded by the trustees of Stanford University in 1946. Siri was a spinoff company of SRI before its purchase by Apple. However, in yesterday’s talk, Kittlaus noted that “…Siri means in Norwegian, ‘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. And also consumer companies need to focus on the fact that the name is easy to spell, is easy to say…”
Kittlaus, who was the CEO of Siri, was invited to talk with Steve Jobs at one point for three hours at the late Apple CEO’s home. Kittlaus noted that Jobs really didn’t like the Siri name, but Kittlaus kept pushing him to keep the name. When Jobs couldn’t find anything better, he decided to stick with Siri. Similar stories have come up about the naming of the iMac and iPad, both products that were given names that Jobs initially hated but eventually came to like.