Nuance Communications offered to buy speech-recognition rival Vlingo as Google readies "Majel," its answer to Apple's popular Siri software.
Communications (NASDAQ:NUAN) agreed to acquire Vlingo, a move that buries a
legal hatchet between the two rivals and makes things more interesting in the
battle between Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) for the best
Nuance said it
struck the deal, for which financial terms were not disclosed, to help meet the
demand for intelligent voice interfaces that combine voice, language
understanding and semantic processing. The buy also brings closure to the patent-infringement lawsuit between Nuance and Vlingo
tuck in Vlingo's technology and Nuance research and development chops to build
better natural-language interfaces, which the companies believe represents a $5
billion market opportunity across phones, tablets, TVs, cars and other consumer
by the introduction of services, such as Apple's Siri and our own Dragon Go!,
virtually every mobile and consumer electronics company on the planet is
looking for ways to integrate natural, conversational voice interactions into
their mobile products, applications and services," Mike Thompson, senior vice president and general manager for
Nuance Mobile, said in a statement.
This may not
be the normal hyperbole company executives utter when they want to justify
Apple's Siri, launched on the iPhone 4S in October
, has certainly
generated a raft of interest beyond anything Google has triggered with its own
speech-recognition applications for Android smartphones and tablets.
speech-recognition software currently powers Siri, which replaced Vlingo in a coup
that occurred before
Apple acquired Siri in 2010.
Android smartphone users to speak preset commands into their handsets to
perform Web searches, make phone calls, send text messages and perform other
Vlingo became a lot more Siri-like in July 2010, with the
addition of a SuperDialer
feature that calls out to the Web like
Siri does. As with Siri, users may access the SuperDialer by voice to look for
local taxis or pizza restaurants, then call the businesses with one click.
At that time,
Vlingo appeared to be a fine acquisition target for Google, which had only
Voice Search software at the time. Instead, Google one month later introduced Voice Actions
offsetting Vlingo on some Android handsets.
Word in the
blogosphere is that Google is developing "Majel,"
upgrade to Voice Actions that uses natural-language processing to make it more