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Nuance confirms its voice technology is behind Apple's Siri

post #1 of 44
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It was long suspected, and now Nuance has confirmed that their technology is indeed present in Siri, the digital assistant available on Apple's iOS devices.

siri


Nuance, a leader in digital speech recognition, has long been thought to have contributed technology to Apple's digital assistant, though neither company had confirmed that until today. Speaking at AllThingsD's D11 conference, Nuance CEO Paul Ricci finally confirmed that Nuance's technology is in fact a part of Apple's Siri.

"We are the fundamental provider of voice recognition for Apple," Ricci admitted when asked whether Nuance was to blame when Siri doesn't understand requests.

Ricci explained that Nuance does not handle Siri's artificial intelligence layers, only the voice recognition. Further, Ricci said that Siri has both embedded and cloud technology for voice recognition, but that the feature is overall a cloud solution.

Ricci went on to note that Nuance doesn't do voice recognition only for Apple. In addition to the company's own Dragon dictation software, Nuance works with Samsung ? presumably on that company's S-Voice Siri competitor ? and other companies to develop voice applications on Android.

Nuance, however, is not involved with Google's speech-recognition effort, Google Now. That feature ? recently brought to iOS and even more recently named in a Siri patent suit ? is thought to have largely derived from Google's own voice recognition efforts and voice services.

Ricci went on to describe the future of voice recognition in technology. The next two years, Ricci says, will see virtual assistants becoming much more robust and working across platforms.

"The real problem," Ricci said, "is creating a virtual assistant that can understand what the user wants and take action based on anticipating those needs."

Apple unveiled Siri with the release of the iPhone 4S, sending many of its competitors scrambling to develop a similar feature. Many of the larger Android manufacturers have done so in the time since, and Google Now has picked up much of the slack for those who haven't.
post #2 of 44

I'm not normally a fan of 'duh' comments, but...

 

Duh?

post #3 of 44

Well… yeah?

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post #4 of 44
Why didn't Apple buy Nuance?

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post #5 of 44

Buy Nuance.

 

Buy Liquidmetal Technologies.

 

Buy Square.

 

Buy Foursquare.

 

And let the good times roll.

post #6 of 44
Considering the quality of Google's voice recognition, I'd say Nuance (as Siri) is no longer the leader in this area.

Apple should consider making some defensive acquisitions in all of their key areas, some as noted by Macvicta above.

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post #7 of 44

Nuance is the largest holder of Voice Recognition IP, over the years they bough most of the competitors. Also Mototorol swipe technology for typing is based on Nuance technology. Yeah apple could have bought them for the IP, but Nuance has licensed most of it IP to everyone, not sure that is something Apple wants to deal with. Most of Nuance revenue comes from their licensing agreements. 

 

When I hear that Apple was being sued over Siri it was kind of interesting since we all believe it was Nuance IP behind most all of it. Not sure how google can get around all the Nuance IP to come up with their own solutions.

post #8 of 44
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Originally Posted by MacVicta View Post

Buy Nuance.

 

Buy Liquidmetal Technologies.

 

Buy Square.

 

Buy Foursquare.

All excellent suggestions.

 

Apple should do this yesterday.

post #9 of 44
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post
All excellent suggestions.

 

Apple should do this yesterday.

 

Since they've purchased eight companies since October… and we don't know which they are… maybe they have!

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post #10 of 44
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Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

All excellent suggestions.

 

Apple should do this yesterday.

Right, because Apple can just up and buy any public company they want.  Oh wait...

post #11 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Applelunatic View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

All excellent suggestions.

 

Apple should do this yesterday.

Right, because Apple can just up and buy any public company they want.  Oh wait...

Yep. Current market cap for Nuance NUAN is 6.2 B. For a hostile takeover they would likely need to double that.

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post #12 of 44
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Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Since they've purchased eight companies since October… and we don't know which they are… maybe they have!

 

For their master stroke, they should use $40 billion in cash to short GOOG stock, then perform a leveraged buyout of the company.

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post #13 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Considering the quality of Google's voice recognition, I'd say Nuance (as Siri) is no longer the leader in this area.

It pains me to admit it, but Google's app on iOS is better than voice search on Safari. Apple has tendency to jump out in front and then get complacent, allowing others to quickly build on it's success and surpass them.
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post #14 of 44
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Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

For their master stroke, they should use $40 billion in cash to short GOOG stock, then perform a leveraged buyout of the company.

Shorting a stock that has been on a tear all year is probably not the best idea in the world and Apple doesn't do debt so an LBO of anything is pretty unlikely.

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post #15 of 44
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Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Yep. Current market cap for Nuance NUAN is 6.2 B. For a hostile takeover they would likely need to double that.

That you posted that without laughing at yourself is hilarious. That is not how acquiring another public company works. You don't just go "hurr hurr I buying you!".

post #16 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Applelunatic View Post

That you posted that without laughing at yourself is hilarious. That is not how acquiring another public company works. You don't just go "hurr hurr I buying you!".

Ok you explain how it's done.

 

I'm using this info as a working model:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takeover#Hostile_takeovers


Edited by mstone - 5/30/13 at 1:16pm

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post #17 of 44
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Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post


It pains me to admit it, but Google's app on iOS is better than voice search on Safari. Apple has tendency to jump out in front and then get complacent, allowing others to quickly build on it's success and surpass them.

 

 

Really?

 

When did Apple get complacent and as result got behind?

post #18 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

I'm not normally a fan of 'duh' comments, but...

Duh?

Was this really never confirmed? I feel it was known if not directly stated from either company since Siri used Nuance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Considering the quality of Google's voice recognition, I'd say Nuance (as Siri) is no longer the leader in this area.

Apple should consider making some defensive acquisitions in all of their key areas, some as noted by Macvicta above.

Is this the Nuance speech-to-text part of the system or the Siri-part of the system that can intelligently analyze how to interpret the data after it's been processed past its waveform? In the latter area Google had a huge head start over Apple, and probably even Siri.

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post #19 of 44
Google Now is pretty great. I rarely if ever use it, but it works great. Incredibly fast.
post #20 of 44
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Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Ok explain how it's done.

The company tenders an offer to purchase all outstanding shares. There is then a vote amongst shareholders to either accept or reject the offer. If a majority agrees then the company is sold.

 

And for a company such as Nuance which has something like 93% institutional ownership it is highly unlike you're going to be able to buy a majority stake from shares being sold on the market. So your idea of a hostile takeover is mostly a pipe dream. You do realize you can only buy shares of the stock that someone is putting up for sale, right? You don't just say "I'm buying 51% of this company" and poof you own those shares.

post #21 of 44
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Originally Posted by Applelunatic View Post


The company tenders an offer to purchase all outstanding shares. There is then a vote amongst shareholders to either accept or reject the offer. If a majority agrees then the company is sold.

 

And for a company such as Nuance which has something like 93% institutional ownership it is highly unlike you're going to be able to buy a majority stake from shares being sold on the market. So your idea of a hostile takeover is mostly a pipe dream. You do realize you can only buy shares of the stock that someone is putting up for sale, right? You don't just say "I'm buying 51% of this company" and poof you own those shares.

You are describing a tender offer which not really a hostile takeover that I referred to in my original comment. Who knows if Nuance would accept a tender offer but if they would not then the suitor moves on to more hostile techniques of which there are a number of that could be tried.

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post #22 of 44
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Originally Posted by mstone View Post

You are describing a tender offer which not really a hostile takeover that I referred to in my original comment. Who knows if Nuance would accept a tender offer but if they would not then the suitor moves on to more hostile techniques of which there are a number of that could be tried.

Yes, I addressed your nonsensical hostile tackeover idea with the second half of my post that you seemed to have failed to read. To have a hostile takeover, you either need to own a majority of the company or have a group of investors backing you that owns a majority. Good luck with that when Nuance is 93% institutional ownership which usually means you have lots of people who own small percentages of the company.

post #23 of 44
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Originally Posted by Applelunatic View Post

Yes, I addressed your nonsensical hostile tackeover idea with the second half of my post that you seemed to have failed to read. To have a hostile takeover, you either need to own a majority of the company or have a group of investors backing you that owns a majority. Good luck with that when Nuance is 93% institutional ownership which usually means you have lots of people who own small percentages of the company.

Go read this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takeover#Hostile_takeovers

 

Hostile takeovers are almost always possible depending on how much money you want to spend to get it done.

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post #24 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Go read this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takeover#Hostile_takeovers

 

Hostile takeovers are almost always possible depending on how much money you want to spend to get it done.

Great, it says nothing that contradicts anything I said. In order to have a hostile takeover you need to either buy up a majority share of stock to change management (which would be next to impossible with high institutional ownership because of the very low turnover) or you lodge a proxy fight where you get a majority of shareholders to back you. Which is exactly what your link says and what I said in what you quoted. This is before you get into the fact that hostile takeovers have a huge fail rate (as in around 95% or more).

post #25 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Applelunatic View Post

Yes, I addressed your nonsensical hostile tackeover idea with the second half of my post that you seemed to have failed to read. To have a hostile takeover, you either need to own a majority of the company or have a group of investors backing you that owns a majority. Good luck with that when Nuance is 93% institutional ownership which usually means you have lots of people who own small percentages of the company.

 

Yes, but the top 10 institutional holders have ~53% of the stock.


Go and offer a fund manager a 100% markup (which MStone suggested) on one of their holdings, and it's unlikely they would turn it down.

 

You get 50% of the voting stock, it's pretty simple to replace the management with one that would back a takeover.

post #26 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Applelunatic View Post

Great, it says nothing that contradicts anything I said. 

It says a lot more than what you wrote and that which you left out was the basis of my point.

 

I think you forgot that I completely I agreed with your original comment in that buying Nuance was not going to happen as it would be too expensive and therefore not a prudent investment for Apple anyway.

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post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Applelunatic View Post

Great, it says nothing that contradicts anything I said. In order to have a hostile takeover you need to either buy up a majority share of stock to change management (which would be next to impossible with high institutional ownership because of the very low turnover) or you lodge a proxy fight where you get a majority of shareholders to back you. Which is exactly what your link says and what I said in what you quoted. This is before you get into the fact that hostile takeovers have a huge fail rate (as in around 95% or more).

 

Why are you so convinced institutional owners aren't interested in selling stock at a 100% markup?

post #28 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

It says a lot more than what you wrote and that which you left out was the basis of my point.

 

I think you forgot that I completely I agreed with your original comment in that buying Nuance was not going to happen as it would be too expensive and not a prudent investment for Apple anyway.

What exactly did I leave out? Umm, nothing. I basically said the exact same thing it did. You need to buy up a majority share or you have to get a majority of shareholders on your side. Also, a hostile takeover if successful is a long and drawn out process. It again, is not just Apple snapping its fingers and *voila* it owns Nuance.

post #29 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

 

Why are you so convinced institutional owners aren't interested in selling stock at a 100% markup?

Because if simply offering a large premium to buy the company guaranteed success, Michael Dell wouldn't be facing such issues taking his company private, right? The way things work in reality very often do not live up to such ideals as you think.

post #30 of 44
Why now, I wonder, would they finally admit to this? Did a non-disclosure agreement expire or something?
post #31 of 44

To further add, Microsoft offered a 62% premium to Yahoo! to purchase it back in 2008 and its offer failed. According to your logic it should have been no problem for them to get shareholder approval, right?

post #32 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Applelunatic View Post

What exactly did I leave out? Umm, nothing. 

Thanks for the finance lesson. I realize it must pain you to cast your pearls before swine, but next time, please try to do it without resorting to personal insults. It just makes your argument look weaker. 

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post #33 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post

Why didn't Apple buy Nuance?

Nuance is a multi-billion dollar corporation with solutions in industries that would be highly disruptive to the ability of Apple to focus.

I have often considered whether or not Apple might be data mining every Siri command to develop a better internal speech recognition engine.
post #34 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Applelunatic View Post

Because if simply offering a large premium to buy the company guaranteed success, Michael Dell wouldn't be facing such issues taking his company private, right? The way things work in reality very often do not live up to such ideals as you think.

 

Michael Dell made a shit offer - that's the problem.

post #35 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post

I have often considered whether or not Apple might be data mining every Siri command to develop a better internal speech recognition engine.

They would be remiss if they aren't but I'd think the focus would be on making the Siri aspect of it more intelligent before focusing on their own speech-to-text engine.

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post #36 of 44
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Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post

I have often considered whether or not Apple might be data mining every Siri command to develop a better internal speech recognition engine.

That is what Google did with their GOOG-411 project (beta). They collected three years worth of voice samples to serve as a foundation to their current voice search application. They built it from scratch rather than license someone else's technology. I wish Apple would do more of that sort of thing. For some reason they tend to acquire a bunch of work in progress technologies and then cobble the pieces and parts together like they did with Maps and Siri.

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post #37 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

They would be remiss if they aren't but I'd think the focus would be on making the Siri aspect of it more intelligent before focusing on their own speech-to-text engine.

I would think they could have been capturing data since release. If so then they should have sufficient data to develop a speech recognition engine in English at least.

Speech Recognition will become (more so than now) a major service in the future. This is an area that I believe Apple absolutely must own.

Nuance is arguably the most predatory corporation in history. Anything Apple can do to escape their circle is to be applauded.
post #38 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

It pains me to admit it, but Google's app on iOS is better than voice search on Safari. Apple has tendency to jump out in front and then get complacent, allowing others to quickly build on it's success and surpass them.

You mean "allowing others to quickly steal on Apple's success."
post #39 of 44
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post
You mean "allowing others to quickly steal on Apple's success."

 

You mean "Sues the ever-loving crap out of these wretched thieves who manage to magically slip away anyway."

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post #40 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post

I would think they could have been capturing data since release. If so then they should have sufficient data to develop a speech recognition engine in English at least.

Speech Recognition will become (more so than now) a major service in the future. This is an area that I believe Apple absolutely must own.

Nuance is arguably the most predatory corporation in history. Anything Apple can do to escape their circle is to be applauded.

In under 2 years? There has been many decades of development on this. I think Nuance is based off of earlier technology. I simply don't see Apple coming in and build it up from scratch with their own tech in such a short time. And like I stated, the real issue of Siri's usability and performance is based on the intelligence of the digital personal assistant, not the speech-to-text engine, so if they do that I'd expect that to happen well after Siri is well out of Beta and considerably more robust and more flawless.

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