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Friday, October 18, 2013

10:26 AM 0

  After Reportedly Buying Cue, A Personal Assistant App, Apple May Bolster Siri

KnowledgeHutt.Blogspot.com                                                         CUE Service has been shut Down 
Apple AAPL +0.75% seems serious about developing the technology that powers its personal assistant Siri, having reportedly bought Cue, a personal assistant app for the iPhone that processes contacts, e-mail and files to present a daily agenda. It’s bought the company for more than $35 million, according to reports in TechCrunch and Apple Insider this morning. Cue’s co-founder and CEO told Forbes in August that while Cue had worked for the last three years creating its data-organizing software, it was “hard” to design an interface that consumers could understand and use easily.

Cue had previously received more than $4.7 million in funding investors including Sequoia Capital and more recently Index Ventures. DropBox was one of the interested suitors in Cue, according to TechCrunch. Cue’s CEO could not be reached for more details by phone, though a message on his sitesays the service has shut down. Premium users will receive a pro-rated refund and all data and personal information has been “permanently deleted,” it said.

Apple often doesn’t confirm its acquisitions and is only saying that, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

For Siri, Apple currently uses a combination of its own software and voice recognition technology from Nuance, via a licensing deal thought by analysts to be worth $40-60 million a year. Earlier this year it emerged that Apple had established a research center in Boston where its staff were working on Siri. It is unclear if Apple’s long-term intentions are to eventually run Siri independent of Nuance’s technology, similar to the way it developed its own Maps application so that the iPhone could stop using Google GOOG +13.31% Maps as a default navigation app.

The purchase of Cue suggests that Apple certainly wants to differentiate its personal assistant offering from other competitors, in particular Google Now, an app for Android phones that’s also a central feature of the new Moto X phone. The device can be “woken up” with voice commands directed to Google Now, without needing to touch the device.

Cue used to be called Greplin but changed its name to Cue in June 2012. The company’s CEO and co-founder Daniel Gross told me in August that there were a number of challenges in cross pollinating data between different sources such as calendars and email, and apps like Evernote and LinkedIn LNKD +3.76%. Gross said he had been working for the last three years on building software that could securely cross-reference and present personal data on a smartphone, most recently with 14 engineers.

Ironically, he was also skeptical of becoming a white-label vendor, so that other technology companies could use Cue’s software under their own brand names.

“People ask why don’t we white label what we do and let someone solve the interface problem,” he said. “My opinion is the goal and mission of company is to be a brand people live and breath every day and hopefully love and appreciate and find useful.” Perhaps that opinion was bound to change when Apple came knocking.