There will be 8 billion voice assistants in the world by 2023 and Apple intends to take advantage of this financial and technological windfall. The Hic? The Cupertino company is already lagging behind in this market against the industry leaders Amazon and Google. To change the situation and thus allow Siri to one day play in the same court as Alexa and Google Assistant, the apple brand has bought the Californian start-up PullString, specializing in voice interfaces, according to sources in the file cited. through Axios.
The acquisition has not been confirmed by the two companies. Nevertheless, the amount of the operation would be around 30 million dollars, to which would be added 10 million dollars of potential gains for the staff of the young shoot. This would be a great deal for Apple as PullString, which raised nearly $ 45 million in total between 2011 and 2016, was valued at $ 160 million during its last round of funding. almost three years ago.
Amazon, absolute leader in the connected speakers market
Founded in 2011 by Matin Reddy, Oren Jacob and Renee Adams, a group of former Pixar executives, PullString, formerly ToyTalk, has built its notoriety by designing voice applications for interactive toys. The company notably distinguished itself by injecting its technology into Mattel’s “Hello Barbie” voice-activated dolls in 2015. At the time, this product sparked a lively controversy because the voice recognition software developed by PullString offered the possibility to Mattel to record sounds made by children, and therefore in a way to listen to them. An opportunity that was not to the liking of the FBI who had considered that these dolls constituted a dangerous intrusion into the privacy of children.
After the ensuing commercial failure, the San Francisco-based company changed its identity and focus by focusing on the smart speaker market driven by Amazon Echo and Google Home. Market in which Apple is trying to position itself with its HomePod speaker launched last year. However, the latter struggles to impose itself in American and international homes. According to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, Amazon Echo largely dominates the US market with 70% of sales, ahead of Google Home (24%) and HomePod (6%). In this context, Apple has no other choice but to beef up its intelligent voice assistant Siri to make it compete with Alexa, present today in 100 million connected objects according to Amazon. The takeover of PullString should thus enable Tim Cook’s firm to make up part of its technological backwardness in voice interfaces to ultimately nurture strong ambitions in the voice assistant market.