Apple Increases Number of Job Openings With ‘Siri’ in the Title

Joshua Fruhlinger, writing for Thinknum:

Apple hiring trend data suggests that the company is finally taking its Siri intelligent assistant seriously. According to hiring data that we track at Thinknum, the number of open positions that contain the term “Siri” has accelerated in recent weeks, with a current all-time high of 161 job listings posted today alone. This marks a jump in hiring for the keyword of 24% in just over a month.

I would caution against drawing any conclusions from this other than that Apple has increased the number of job openings which include “Siri” in the title. Does this mean they’re taking Siri “more seriously”? Maybe. But I don’t think they ever didn’t take it seriously. A lot of people seem to take it for granted that because Siri has stalled compared to Google Assistant and Alexa, it means Apple doesn’t care about Siri. I don’t think that conclusion follows at all — you can care passionately about something and fail.

This increase in “Siri” job openings could mean Apple has concluded they need to increase the headcount on the Siri team. Or it could mean there’s been a lot of turnover. And keep in mind Fred Brooks’s axiom from The Mythical Man-Month, which is almost universally regarded as true: “Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.” (I hesitated to include the Brooks’s law reference here, because Siri is not a single monolithic project. It’s more like a system of smaller sub-projects. But still, throwing engineers at a poorly organized software project can have the effect of throwing water on a grease fire.)

I think the true answer to the question “What’s gone wrong with Siri at Apple?” is almost certainly complex and multivariate. It’s naive to think it’s simply been understaffed.

Monday, 2 April 2018