Yahoo News noted that Apple has a job opening for a “Speech Scientist/Engineer” for the Siri team in Seattle, home of Amazon Alexa. The job description which according to GlassDoor has been open for a month, reads:
“The Siri Advanced Development team is looking for an exceptional, experienced speech scientist and/or software engineer who is passionate about incubating and shipping strategic features that will delight millions of users…If hired, you will work with a team to ideate, rapidly prototype, and potentially ship next-generation user experiences for Siri…This position offers the right person a chance to play an important part in the next revolution in human-computer interaction and artificial intelligence. You will contribute to a product that is redefining computing.”
But that speech scientist won’t be alone in the Pacific Northwest. There is another listing for a “Siri Advanced Development, Software Engineer” as well. It is notable that Apple is recruiting for Siri in Alexa’s backyard, but it is probably a smart move. Skill sets in speech technology are in high demand and Amazon has spent several years training thousands of employees in the domain.
Two of 86 Siri Job Openings
There are currently 86 job openings on Apple’s website with Siri in the title and 159 that include working with Siri as part of their job responsibilities. Some of the latter category include, “iOS Engineer, Text-to-Speech,” “Speech Web Applications Engineer,” “Senior Robust Speech R&D Engineer,” “NLP Engineer,” and many related to machine learning and audio. Roughly 120 of the jobs are speech, audio or Siri-specific and the balance have tangential Siri interactions among many responsibilities. Almost all of the openings are for Santa Clara Valley with a couple in Japan and China and several in both Cambridge, MA and Cambridge UK.
Amazon Alexa Job Openings are 10x Higher
Amazon is at a different level in terms of hiring needs. There are 1,127 job openings directly related to Alexa today and 1,018 appear to be technical. Siri has been around longer so you might assume Apple is simply augmenting that team and the more recent Amazon expansion requires a torrid hiring pace. That may be true or it may simply be that Alexa and Echo adoption are growing so rapidly that Amazon must hire to keep up with demand and implement its international expansion plans.
The Voice Job Crunch
If you are working with voice technologies, your opportunities appear unlimited at the moment. The big employers in the space are looking at opportunities unfulfilled if they cannot hire for the vast number of open jobs. And, its not just Apple and Amazon. Microsoft has at least 106 open jobs related to Cortana. The Google Assistant team surely has openings (although only one in Zurich was readily found) and there are countless startups with needs. For example, Soundhound has nearly 50 openings for technical positions and Snips.ai has eight.
Hiring May Be the Most Important Strategy
It is easy to focus in on the technology or device sales numbers when evaluating the voice technology market. They are tangible and can be evaluated right now. However, nearly everyone agrees that the market for voice is still in its infancy. If we are looking at a long arc, it may be that hiring today will be the most important factor in determining ultimate success. The teams with more human resources that can expertly build out the platforms are going to have an advantage.
In economics, you look at both demand and supply. We can clearly say that demand for voice and AI-based products is growing quickly. Which suppliers of the technology will succeed in fulfilling that demand is an open question. The inputs to supply matter and labor is the most important asset right now largely because of scarcity.