Meet the Man Who Sold Siri to Apple, Dag Kittlaus

By , Nov 11, 2011

Since the iPhone 4S debuted last month at Apple’s “Let’s Talk” iPhone event, everyone has been talking about one feature: Siri. Apple’s digital assistant has become extremely popular, even outside the tech world.

Unlike most inventions that make their way into Apple’s iOS products, Siri wasn’t made in Cupertino. It was actually acquired in a deal rumored to be worth close to $200 million, making a handful of men instant millionaires. Meet Dag Kittlaus…

An e24 article spotlights Kittlaus, one of Siri’s four co-founders. The 44 year old Norwegian had his life turned upside down last year when he received a phone call from Apple regarding his company’s personal assistant software.

But the call wasn’t from just any executive; Steve Jobs himself was on the line to talk about a possible acquisition of Kittlaus’ team and their Siri technology. Kittlaus recalls his reaction to the call from the former CEO (Norwegian translation):

“Of course it was a great moment when Steve Jobs called and wanted to buy my company. It was surreal. When I heard that it was him, I knew we had made it big. In advance, we were pretty confident that the technology we had developed was so startling that we would get some kind of breakthrough. Steve was the first caller.”

Once the deal with Apple was complete, Kittlaus and team moved to Cupertino to continue their work on Siri at Apple’s headquarters. He spent 18 months working on the project before leaving the company in October — shortly after the iPhone 4S launched.

Perhaps the most interesting part of e24’s article is Kittlaus’ thoughts on working at Apple. He says that in his tenure with the company, he learned that the iPhone-makers weren’t motivated at all by money or profit. “They just desire to create fantastic products.”

[9to5Mac]

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  • jose castro

    good for him

  • Anonymous

    So it’s his fault that we didn’t get an iPhone 5. Without Siri, apple wouldn’t have launched the iPhone 4S :D

    • http://twitter.com/tom_niko Tom Nikolic

      so what if it was an iPhone 5. it wouldn’t make it be a phone with an inbuilt X-ray or laser. jeez apple did this for their own reasons.

      • Anonymous

        I don’t think they would have launched the iPhone 4S without Siri, as the iPhone 4S isn’t very different from the last model, and without Siri, the hardware improvements aren’t much incentive to upgrade. Who knows though, except Apple. If they didn’t have Siri, maybe apple would have come up with some other mind-blowing improvement. 

  • http://twitter.com/PaulNorwell Paul norwell

    Maybe if apple was to brin out a new phone and not a new feature, I would have stayed with apple a few more years. Instead I will be cheating on apple with a galaxy s2 soon. Apple should have spent more time making the things that didn’t work actually work for a change and then moving onto a personal assistant which I might add is useless on the uk, which is where I am. Apple, you loose this time. I’ve given you chance after chance and stuck with you through 3G/3GS/4. Sorry but you have lost me. Call me in a year or so when you bring the actual iPhone 5 out.

  • http://twitter.com/PaulNorwell Paul norwell

    Maybe if apple was to brin out a new phone and not a new feature, I would have stayed with apple a few more years. Instead I will be cheating on apple with an android soon. Apple should have spent more time making the things that didn’t work actually work for a change and then moving onto a personal assistant which I might add is useless on the uk, which is where I am. Apple, you loose this time. I’ve given you chance after chance and stuck with you through 3G/3GS/4. Sorry but you have lost me. Call me in a year or so when you bring the actual iPhone 5 out.

    • http://twitter.com/iphoneblogr iphoneblogr

      Ya, they lose. They lose all the way to the bank. I’m sure they won’t miss you.

    • Anonymous

      I hope you let us know when your SII breaks and you have to send it back.

    • http://twitter.com/burlow burlow

      so….are you back with an iphone 5?? ; )

  • Anonymous

    WHY, “Dag Kittlaus”?! WHY SELL A GREAT APP THAT SERVED A GREAT USED TO EVERYONE?! WHY FALL IN APPLE’S TRAP?!

    • Anonymous

      Oh, wait, I know… MONEY.

      • http://www.facebook.com/yeohsengjoo Jacques Yeoh

        If Siri purchased by samsung, LG, etc, its still an ordinary company.
        Now Siri purchased by Apple, it had became the world’s most popular AI tech
        Not to be mention that DARPA involved in SIRI project after Apple purchased it, Samsung/LG/Sony couldn’t make it

  • Anonymous

    …he learned that the iPhone-makers weren’t motivated at all by money or profit. “They just desire to create fantastic products… nice!

    Had to be a great moment when SJ called.

    • Anonymous

      I completely agree that Apple strives to create amazing products, but it’s not true that they are not motivated by money. If they weren’t motivated by money, they wouldn’t charge so much for their stuff, or keep their top executives with huge stock bonusses.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shaun.ysj Shaun Yang

    He was forced to leave or ? why he can’t stay? O.o

  • Anonymous

    Not motivated by money MY ASS.

  • OQT

    Apple should have spent more money on AI/voice recognition rather than a piece of crap they paid for. Maybe spending real money with IBM with Watson.