According to a report by the New York Times, nearly 25 percent of the traffic handled by search engine Wolfram Alpha comes from Siri, Apple's voice-controlled personal assistant software.
Apple announced a partnership with Wolfram Alpha in October when it released the iPhone 4S and introduced Siri. Wolfram Alpha differs from other search engines in that its results are based on data curated by Wolfram Alpha, not on algorithms attempting to sort the Web like Google or Bing.
Despite early criticism of Wolfram Alpha's self-described "computational knowledge engine," including its initial focus on mathematical and scientific data, the once-small company has grown to a team of over 200 and is on the cusp of releasing Wolfram Alpha Pro, which company creator Stephen Wolfram calls "Step 2, the next step of what can be done with this approach."
Wolfram can thank Apple for some of his search engine's recent popularity as Siri uses the databases to offer comparisons asked for by iPhone 4S users. But Apple is not the only company that likes what Wolfram is offering. Microsoft licenses the Wolfram Alpha technology, as do several other companies that contract specialized versions of the search engine for their research teams.
For iPhone 4S users (and users of future iPhone models), Siri's relationship with Wolfram Alpha is an important one. Wolfram's approach to queries adds to the understanding of search semantics and how users interact with search results. Having that capability on your mobile device can only continue to be helpful.
In your personal experience, does Siri use Wolfram Alpha to provide answers to your questions? Let me know your experience in the comments!