Apple just reportedly bought a startup that specializes in helping companies build voice apps

apple siriFlorence Fu/Tech Insider

  • Apple has acquired Pullstring, a startup that helps customers publish voice apps, according to Axios.
  • The acquisition could be part of an effort by Apple to catch up to Amazon, the current leader in the voice assistant space.
  • Pullstring was last valued at $163.57 million, according to PitchBook, but the terms of the deal were not specified in the report.

Apple has acquired Pullstring, a company that helps companies publish voice apps for platforms like Amazon's Alexa and the Google Assistant, according to a new report from Axios.

The move could help Apple bolster its Siri virtual assistant, which is far more limited in terms of its features and the products it works with when compared to Amazon's digital butler, Alexa. Amazon is considered to be the market leader in the digital assistant space, and that lead only lengthens when you look at smart speaker use specifically. A Strategy Analytics report from October suggests that the retail giant accounts for 63% of smart speaker use in the United States, whereas Google accounts for 17% and Apple only accounts for 4%. Business Insider has reached out to Apple for comment and will update this story accordingly when we hear back.

Pullstring was founded in 2011 and was last valued at $163.57 million, according to Pitchbook. Terms of the deal were not mentioned in the report. In addition to providing publishing assistance to developers interested in creating voice apps, the company has worked with toymaker Mattel on its talking Barbie doll called Hello Barbie, back when the startup was called ToyTalk.
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