Most people seem roughly pretty happy with Siri, but you’ve got to admit: the name is a little bit un-Apple-like. Modern Apple product names tend to be strongly evocative of what the product actually does, or what it looks like. The iPod, for example, looks like something out of Kubrick’s 2001. iCloud stores your documents in the cloud. The iPad is a digital pad of paper. And so on. Compared to Apple’s usual flair for product names, Siri’s name isn’t self-explanatory.
Looks like Steve Jobs agreed. He reportedly wasn’t happy with the name Siri, but couldn’t ever figure out a better name before the iPhone 4S launched.
The story comes through Dag Kittlaus, one of the co-founders of Siri, who named the service after a woman he worked with in Siri.
“I worked with a lady named Siri in Norway and wanted to name my daughter Siri and the domain was available,” Kittlaus said. “And also consumer companies need to focus on the fact that the name is easy to spell, easy to say.”
“Siri” means “beautiful woman who leads you to victory” in Norwegian, apparently, making it a surprisingly feminist name for an Apple product.
But Jobs didn’t like the name. After summoning Kittlaus to his Cupertino home shortly after the original Siri app launched on the iPhone, Jobs enthused about the service, but had reservations about actually calling it Siri.
“(Apple is) patient — they don’t jump on anything until they feel they can go after something new, and he felt that we cracked it,” Kittlaus explained. “So that was his attraction (to Siri).”
Siri was quickly purchased by Apple, and Kittlaus became head of Apple’s speech recognition team from April 2010 until late last year, after the iPhone 4S launched. He’s since left the company, although the parting was apparently amicable.