IVR System: Nuance Garners a Week of Wall-to-Wall News Coverage
May 13, 2011
By Linda Dobel, TMCnet Contributor
This has been a full week awash in news of Nuance Communications (News - Alert) Inc., a powerhouse supplier of imaging technology and speech recognition technology for phones and other devices. Making much of the news swirling around Nuance even more high profile is that a good portion of it also concerns Apple (News - Alert), an even bigger powerhouse that designs, manufactures and markets a range of PCs, mobile communication and media devices, among other things, and whose vast product and service line includes iPhone, iPad, iPod and the iOS operating system.
The Nuance news spate began a week ago when MG Siegler, writing for TechCrunch, devoted his column to discussing rumors that “Apple has been negotiating a deal with Nuance in recent months.” While he dismissed as “unlikely” the idea that the negotiations meant Apple would be acquiring Nuance right now, he said it is more “likely, it means a partnership that will be vital to both companies and could shape the future of iOS.” That’s because Siri, which is an Apple acquisition, relies on Nuance technology for its services. And according to Siegler, “Siri technology is expected to be a big part of iOS 5. By extension, that means that Nuance technology will be a big part of iOS 5.”
So why doesn’t Apple just “bite the bullet” and acquire Nuance? Siegler said that while an acquision would reportedly cost Apple “considerably more” than $6 billion dollars, Apple has some “$60 billion or so lying around,” so “the bigger issue, it seems, is that Nuance are very hard bargainers.” Siegler said, “Nuance CEO Paul Ricci can be as hard of a negotiator as Apple’s own Steve Jobs (News - Alert), we hear. And so there has been a standoff, and negotiations have been ongoing for months.” Consequently, he wrote that he believes an expansive licensing agreement is most likely at this point.
By Monday this week, Bloomberg (News - Alert) Businessweek reported, “Shares of Nuance Communications Inc... jumped Monday and hit a new three-year high of $22.93.” The spark, it said, was “Technology news site TechCrunch on Friday said it had heard from several sources that Apple Inc. had been in talks with Nuance, possibly to buy it.” In that report, Oppenheimer analyst Shaul Eyal reportedly told the publication that while Apple is focused on consumers, a good portion of Nuance’s revenue comes from industrial markets like health care and automotive, so he, like MG Siegler at TechCrunch, believes an extension of partnership terms rather than an acquisition is more likely to be the topic of the discussions between Apple and Nuance.
By mid week through Thursday, Nuance was again making headlines. This time the news from Nuance, which was reported on TMCnet, Computer Weekly and GigaOM, http://gigaom.com/apple/nuance-brags-amid-talk-of-apple-deal/ among a number of others, was that the Nuance Developer Program had signed more than 2,500 developers in its first 90 days and successfully launched dozens of voice-enabled apps globally for iOS and Android (News - Alert), a fact that UK-based Thinq_ said Nuance “crows nosily about.”
According to Adrian Bridgwater in Computer Weekly (who concurrently reported on Augmented Reality, a technology that provides digitally enhanced images of the physical world that feature information and data overlaid on screen), the Nuance Developer Program “provides developers with access to the Dragon Mobile SDK - featuring the core Dragon speech recognition capabilities - that allows them to fully voice-enable virtually any app and bring it to market.”
So, what’s next for Nuance? The day is young, and as Siegler said last Friday, “Nuance needs Apple. And Apple needs Nuance.”
In related news, TMCnet reported Nuance Communications, Inc. has agreed to acquire Equitrac Corporation, a provider of print management and cost recovery software solutions, for a consideration of $157 million in cash. Linda Dobel is a TMCnet Contributor. She has been an editor in the contact center space for more than 25 years, and has the distinction of being the founding editor of Customer Inter@ction Solutions (CIS) magazine. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Juliana Kenny