Apple has lured William Stasior away from Amazon where he ran the online retailer’s A9 program and was formerly Amazon’s director of search and navigation. AllThingsD reported Stasior’s move on Monday, saying that Apple’s new hire will run the unit responsible for Siri, Apple’s personal assistant software. This indicates that Siri — and search functionality in general for Apple devices — is gaining importance for the company.
This move follows Apple’s choice to remove Google Maps from its iOS 6 software and replace the function with Apple’s own Maps application. One gap here is that Google’s search prowess shines in Maps, while Apple’s search features are lacking by comparison. Apple also relies on Google to power web searches on its iOS devices, although users can also choose Yahoo or Bing as the default search engine. Simply put, Apple is still heavily reliant on others for search functionality.
With Stasior’s background in search — A9 is the search engine Amazon uses for its website — it appears that Apple’s future in search is one of its own design. That fits with the company’s integrated approach as well: It prefers to optimize its hardware, software and services on its own, rather than rely on outsiders. Also of note: Amazon’s A9 isn’t just a search function; it uses algorithms for advertising. Stasior’s experience in this area could give Apple’s iAds a boost as well.
As a result of this hire, it’s likely iOS would see some noticeable improvements in how Siri can be used to contextually search for information. Apple’s voice-activated virtual assistant software is helpful today, but hasn’t matured much since launching a year ago. Better understanding of what device owners are — or might be, in a proactive way — searching for could help Siri become an information predictor; something that Google Now has become on new Android phones.