Mobile

Siri co-founder: Steve Jobs didn’t care for the name Siri

iPhone 4S Siri

Apple’s Steve Jobs saw the potential in Siri back when it was a standalone application, but when it came to integrating the software into the iPhone as a virtual assistant he was resistant to keeping the name Siri, according to Siri co-founder (and former CEO) Dag Kittlaus.

Speaking at the Chicago startup event Technori Pitch yesterday, Kittlaus regaled the story of how he came up with the name Siri, and Steve Job’s initial hesitance to keeping the name, reports Network World.

Shortly after the iPhone 4S release last October, Siri quickly reached iconic status in popular culture. It was partly due to Siri’s sometimes magical capabilities, and partly to Apple’s slick marketing efforts. But Siri’s simple and unusual name likely helped cement it into the public mind as well.

Kittlaus explained that Siri means “beautiful woman who leads you to victory” in Norwegian, and it was also a name he was saving for his future daughter. But after his first child ended up being a boy, he ended up shelving the name until it came time to name his software.

During his discussions with Apple, he pushed to keep the name even though Jobs wanted to use something else. After failing to find an alternative, Siri ended up being the name of Apple’s new virtual assistant in the iPhone 4S. As Network World notes, Jobs was similarly hesitant to the names iMac and iPod — and look how that turned out.

Kittlaus described how Jobs initially got in touch with him, as recounted by Network World:

Three weeks after we launched I got a call in the office from someone at Apple that said, “Scott Forstall wants to talk to you and he’s the head software guy.”

And I said sure…

Only it wasn’t Scott that called it was Steve. And Steve never announces where he’s gonna be and what he’s gonna do because there’s too much commotion around it. So he said, “Dag, this is Steve Jobs.”

And he wanted me to come over to his house the next day, and I did, and I spent 3 hours with him in front of his fireplace having this surreal conversation about the future.

And, you know, he talked about why Apple was going to win, and we talked about how Siri was doing. And he was very excited about the fact that.. you know, he was very interested in this area in general but, you know, they’re patient, they don’t jump on anything until they feel they can go after something new and he felt that we cracked it. So that was his attraction.

I ended up very lucky, timing wise. I got to work with him for a year before he got real sick. And he’s pretty incredible. The stories are true. All of the stories.

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