Nuance, makers of software in Apple’s Siri, explores possible sale to Samsung

“Speech-recognition software maker Nuance Communications Inc. (NUAN) has held discussions with potential suitors regarding a sale of the company, according to people familiar with the matter,” Gillian Tan, Dana Cimilluca and Ryan Knutson report for The Wall Street Journal.

“The Burlington, Mass., company has recently spoken about a possible sale of the company with Samsung Electronics Co. and private-equity firms, some of the people said,” Tan, Cimilluca and Knutson report. “It isn’t clear where sale talks, some of which happened earlier this year, currently stand or if they will lead to a deal.”

“Last September, Nuance said its voice and language technologies, which are already used in Samsung’s handsets, televisions and tablets, would also be used in the South Korean company’s wearable devices,” Tan, Cimilluca and Knutson report. “Its technology is used in Apple Inc.’s Siri.”

“The company had a market capitalization of about $5.5 billion before The Wall Street Journal reported the talks. Nuance shares rose sharply on the news,” Tan, Cimilluca and Knutson report. “It counts activist investor Carl Icahn as its biggest shareholder. Mr. Icahn’s firm owned about 19% of Nuance as at March 31, according to filings, and has two representatives on the company’s board.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Hmm, is Carl’s little plan coming together? We’re sure he’d welcome a bidding war between Apple and Samsung over Nuance.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Kewo” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Carl Icahn’s ulterior motive: To get Apple to buy Nuance – September 3, 2013
Nuance CEO finally confirms its voice recognition tech is part of Apple’s Siri – May 30, 2013
Nuance buys Vlingo virtual assistant, takes out would-be Siri rival – December 20, 2011

15 Comments

  1. If Apple can come up with something better, they need to dump Nuance. Just how close are they, because of Siri, which I thought came out of a Darpa project. $5.5 billion is too much for Nuance anyway.

    1. Exactly, Nuance is only the speech recognition in Siri. The part which has been most complained about since its introduction. Easily replaced. Let Samsung pay the 5.5B and laugh at them afterwatds

  2. If Nuance is dangling its IP for sale and Apple is not even sniffing it, it means that Nuance has nothing in its creative coffers left.
    If Carl Icahn is an investor in Nuance and he has recognized the creative wasteland that nuance has in its coffers, it would not come as a surprise that he has forced the sale in order to show Nuance a clean pair of heels.
    I smell an Eastman Kodak scenario here! Apple didn’t lose that one as people thought they would!!!

  3. Apple rarely puts all of its eggs in one basket. I imagine Nuance is a stepping stone to something larger. Right now Siri and most “digital personal assistants” are niche products. I like Siri but rarely use it. I let her read text messages to me while I am driving and that is about it. The thing all of these digital personal assistants is missing is a way to make them more relevant. A way to make them a necessary part of my daily workflow. They can’t just be, “a neat feature on a smartphone or table”. It think this is the reason Apple hasn’t brought Siri to OS X. They have to make Siri more useful and necessary. I think they are in the process of doing this and I think Nuance will not have much relevance once they do. Not only will they have a better solution for Siri but that same solution will take over the role of everything Dragon Dictate and other Nuance services do on OS X. I think something significant will come in the next two years or so.

    1. Yes sometimes you only need a technology for a while as part of your bigger picture Nuance is only one part of Siri and as ironically Microsoft no longer need outside tech for its XBox Kinect from PrimeSense Apple clearly saw use for it, Nuance could be a similar situation if in a reverse sort of role.

      I would have thought that prime role for Siri will be in the home automation field and perhaps in collaboration with PrimeSense technology, controlling your home in conversational style would be far more instinctive for humans than in public via a phone where privacy and embarrassment play an inhibitive role.

  4. I’m not a big fan of Samsung, as they are scoundrels and thieves. By not buying Nuance, for a fair price, Apple made a very very bad move. All luck to Samsung or any other company who decides to buy nuance for what they are worth. !!!

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