Siri accounts for about a quarter of the queries fielded by Wolfram Alpha, whose staff has grown to 200. Several large companies in health care, financial services and oil and gas recently hired Dr. Wolfram's private company, Wolfram Research, to do tailored corporate versions of Wolfram Alpha for them. Microsoft also licenses Wolfram Alpha technology.
Interestingly, Stephen Wolfram notes that Siri queries are actually easier to process than typed queries.
"Spoken queries [have] a different character from typed queries," he explained. "People are a lot less lazy in what they say than what they type." When users type, they put things into a natural shorthand. In spoken requests, they naturally fill in those missing pieces.
On Wednesday, Wolfram Alpha Pro, a premium version of the search engine, will launch for $4.99 a month, or $2.99 for students. The new version can handle data and images, and can for example, generate charts from a table of data.