Apple has been in what analyst calls an "acquisition frenzy" since Google's purchase of mobile ad firm AdMob last year. In line with insider reports that defeating Google is now Job Number One
at Apple, the computer maker is making significant investments aimed at bolstering the iPhone OS platform, at a time when Android is experiencing explosive growth.This last week has seen some purchases by both Silicon Valley giants - Apple bought Siri
and Google acquired BumpTop
- that could have potential long-range impact on the way that the whole industry goes in the future.
Apple's plan for Siri is far from clear, but many observers believe that the company intends to make natural-language voice-enabled search a fundamental part of the iPhone OS... essentially, doing for voice what they have already done for search. Rather than typing terms into subject-specific sites like WeatherBug, Rotten Tomatoes or AllMenus.com, the user just says what they want and the system uses semantic analysis
to figure out which site to query, using the mobile device's GPS data to locate the closest option that suits the user's needs. The language processing capabilities used by Siri could clearly be employed to perform a number of other functions: everything from managing a task list to returning phone calls.
Meanwhile, Google's acquisition of BumpTop has industry analysts predicting that Google will use the Canadian startup's innovative interface for a future "cloudbook" or tablet. The BumpTop software - which, as a statement on the company's website
confirmed, will no longer be available for Windows or Mac OS - uses a three-dimensional "room" interface that allows users to manipulate files and app icons in an intuitive way. Mark McQueen, an analyst for Canadian firm Wellington Financial, wrote in a blog post
that "Bumptop’s cool desktop and underlying technology are a natural piece of Google’s user interface puzzle as they prepare to take on the current kings of all consumer electronics," in a reference to Apple.
The computing industry is in the midst of a shift to mobile, broadband-enabled devices. As during the move from large mainframes to desktop computers - when the graphic user interface largely supplanted the command line - the way we interact with our devices is bound to change. Both Apple and Google want to be the one to define that change.