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Apple partner Nuance exploring sale, reportedly in talks with Samsung

post #1 of 99
Thread Starter 
Nuance Communications, the voice recognition company whose technology helps to power Apple's Siri personal assistant, is said to be exploring a sale of the company, with Apple rival Samsung allegedly a potential suitor.

Siri


Nuance's apparent interest in a sale was first revealed on Monday by The Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources. Nuance is based in Burlington, Mass., and licenses its voice recognition technology to a number of major companies, chief among them Samsung and Apple.

Though the partnership between Nuance and Apple was long assumed, the company officially confirmed last year that its technology helps to power Siri, which is found on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Nuance CEO Paul Ricci revealed that his company's technology is "the fundamental provider of voice recognition for Apple."

Some industry watchers and investors have suggested that Apple should make a play to buy Nuance and own the technology behind Siri while cutting out competitors like Samsung or the Google Now service found in Android. Last year, investors speculated that Apple could acquire Nuance for $7 billion -- a price well beyond anything Apple has ever spent on an acquisition.

Of course, Apple recently did join the billion-dollar-acquisition club with its blockbuster $3 billion buyout of Beats, which was confirmed last month.

Nuance's technology does not handle Siri's artificial intelligence layers. Instead, the company's products simply provides the capability of Siri, or other voice-driven services, to interpret a user's voice. That data must then be contextually deciphered to provide the kind of humanized response a user expects.
post #2 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Nuance Communications, the voice recognition company whose technology helps to power Apple's Siri personal assistant, is said to be exploring a sale of the company, with Apple rival Samsung allegedly a potential suitor.

Some industry watchers and investors have suggested that Apple should make a play to buy Nuance and own the technology behind Siri while cutting out competitors like Samsung or the Google Now service found in Android.

Google doesn't use Nuance for any of their products including Google Now as far as I know. As for the rest of the story it reads to me as Nuance possibly floating the idea of a sale just to see how much they might be worth with no actual plan to follow thru at the moment.
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post #3 of 99
I recommend Apple immediately buy IBM. Replace Siri with Watson and rename it "Steve".

In an unrelated story, the US Transportation Department wants to regulate navigation apps... They are probably losing so much of their traffic ticket money that they want to remove the ability for users to indicate where the police are located.
Edited by SpamSandwich - 6/16/14 at 12:15pm

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post #4 of 99

This is just so they can weedle more money out of Apple when the latter inevitably purchases them.

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post #5 of 99

Even though Siri apparently uses Nuance only for voice recognition and not for AI, it seems to me that this would have been a more important strategic and defensive acquisition than Beats was. 

post #6 of 99
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Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post

Even though Siri apparently uses Nuance only for voice recognition and not for AI, it seems to me that this would have been a more important strategic and defensive acquisition than Beats was. 

To some one out of the loop you are right, however I gave up thinking I was smarter than Apple a long time ago.
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post #7 of 99
I am a long time user of Nuance. More than 12 year. I still use it everyday and am even using it to dictate this. Even with a pretty good microphone (Airport 77), a Retina MBP and a quiet environment, it SUCKS!

Its lack of contextual awareness, for a company that wants to be worth 7 billion , is inexcusable and downright lazy. Statistics-based frequency models for determining which words should appear together are clunky and not fit for purpose in modern computing. Even a little bit of artificial intelligence and better use of grammar would go a long way in making the product better.

The stupid word combinations it sometimes comes up with boggle the mind even with someone that speaks clearly and knows how to use the product.

Apple's dictation in Mavericks cannot be used all day, every day for serious work. But DragonDictate earns enough money that some serious investment would make a product that..... .....makes sense out of the nonsense traces it throws in front of you.

I really wish someone else could emerge to provide enough competition to make them progress in a meaningful way. Apple Dictation just knocked the bottom out of the market and I worry that they will take that as an incentive to invest even less, especially on the Mac platform.

At the end of the day, the product is just too dumb for what we [reasonably] expect of it.
post #8 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Nuance Communications, is said to be exploring a sale of the company, with Apple rival Samsung allegedly a potential suitor.

 

Whoa! Thanks for that important piece of reporting.

Please also do a followup on whether anyone is saying that extraterrestrials might, potentially be involved in some way.

post #9 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post

Even though Siri apparently uses Nuance only for voice recognition and not for AI, it seems to me that this would have been a more important strategic and defensive acquisition than Beats was. 
Didn't you know questioning the Beats acquisition is heresy around here? 1wink.gif
post #10 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post


Didn't you know questioning the Beats acquisition is heresy around here? 1wink.gif

I don't necessarily think the Beats acquisition was as terrible as others feel, but when you compare the two, which is more important?  Seems to me that voice recognition is harder to build than streaming radio, which Apple already actually has, even if it hasn't gained all that much market acceptance.   And while Beats does sell a lot of headphones (for better or worse), Apple certainly has the capability to produce their own high end headphones or work with a different partner on OEM phones with an Apple logo.    How about headphones that would have a high-end refined sound that would work wirelessly with either any computer, iPhone, iPad or Apple TV and also include noise-reduction and a microphone that hides itself within the design when you don't need it packaged within the usual Apple elegant design statement?

 

But they can't do without voice recognition and if Samsung does buy Nuance, Apple could lose its rights to the technology at contract renewal time.   In fact, if Samsung does buy it, I have to think that their primary objective would be to make life harder for Apple.  

post #11 of 99
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Originally Posted by Shawn Richards View Post

I am a long time user of Nuance. More than 12 year. I still use it everyday and am even using it to dictate this. Even with a pretty good microphone (Airport 77), a Retina MBP and a quiet environment, it SUCKS!

Its lack of contextual awareness, for a company that wants to be worth 7 billion , is inexcusable and downright lazy. Statistics-based frequency models for determining which words should appear together are clunky and not fit for purpose in modern computing. Even a little bit of artificial intelligence and better use of grammar would go a long way in making the product better.

The stupid word combinations it sometimes comes up with boggle the mind even with someone that speaks clearly and knows how to use the product.

Apple's dictation in Mavericks cannot be used all day, every day for serious work. But DragonDictate earns enough money that some serious investment would make a product that..... .....makes sense out of the nonsense traces it throws in front of you.

I really wish someone else could emerge to provide enough competition to make them progress in a meaningful way. Apple Dictation just knocked the bottom out of the market and I worry that they will take that as an incentive to invest even less, especially on the Mac platform.

At the end of the day, the product is just too dumb for what we [reasonably] expect of it.

Thanks for your experience, Shaw. 

Article: [Nuance's technology does not handle Siri's artificial intelligence layers. Instead, the company's products simply provides the capability of Siri, or other voice-driven services, to interpret a user's voice.]

 

Surely there is other technology Apple could purchase that would cost far less than this. However, to seem interested to drive the price up to waste Samsung’s time and money would be a ploy most corporations might entertain. Creepy, but Samsung thrives on creepy.

addendum

As Apple seems not to have broached the company prior to this, possibly it is working on its own version of this technology. Just supposing . . 

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post #12 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post


Didn't you know questioning the Beats acquisition is heresy around here? 1wink.gif

Seems to me the opposite is true,

post #13 of 99
Apple apparently has a research lab in Boston made up of former VoiceSignal staff that have been working for a few years on a secret project. Maybe Nuance knows that Apple is about to cut its cord with them and are looking for some company to buy them out before that happens?
post #14 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

Didn't you know questioning the Beats acquisition is heresy around here? 1wink.gif

Troll whining. Typical, but still disgraceful.
post #15 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by huxley View Post

Apple apparently has a research lab in Boston made up of former VoiceSignal staff that have been working for a few years on a secret project. Maybe Nuance knows that Apple is about to cut its cord with them and are looking for some company to buy them out before that happens?

Good find. Thanks, Aldous.
post #16 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by huxley View Post

Apple apparently has a research lab in Boston made up of former VoiceSignal staff that have been working for a few years on a secret project. Maybe Nuance knows that Apple is about to cut its cord with them and are looking for some company to buy them out before that happens?

Google's voice recognition technology and contextual natural language comprehension is so far ahead of everyone else it is ridiculous. I have no idea how they did it without infringing on Nuance patents. That is the main challenge with Apple rolling their own voice recognition, the patents.

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post #17 of 99
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Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

This is just so they can weedle wheedle more money out of Apple when the latter inevitably purchases them.

 

Your typos are just so rare, I can't help myself here...

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post #18 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by huxley View Post

Apple apparently has a research lab in Boston made up of former VoiceSignal staff that have been working for a few years on a secret project. Maybe Nuance knows that Apple is about to cut its cord with them and are looking for some company to buy them out before that happens?

 

Link? Reference?

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post #19 of 99
If I remember correctly Apple used some other horrible company's maps in their mapping application on iOS and then one day Bam! They had their own shiny new maps that works (at least today) much better. Surely Apple must know that Siri's voice recognition is not up to Apple standards. One can only hope.
post #20 of 99

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post #21 of 99

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post #22 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by huxley View Post

Apple apparently has a research lab in Boston made up of former VoiceSignal staff that have been working for a few years on a secret project. Maybe Nuance knows that Apple is about to cut its cord with them and are looking for some company to buy them out before that happens?

Apple was rumored to have purchased Novauris to help improve Siri.

 

"Novauris was founded by the same people who founded Dragon Systems, creators of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which is now owned by Nuance Communications."

 

http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/04/03/apple-acquired-speech-recognition-firm-novauris-last-year-to-improve-siri---report

post #23 of 99
Originally Posted by PScooter63 View Post

Your typos are just so rare, I can't help myself here...

 

Aha! That’s it. I knew it wasn’t quite right; thanks. From German ‘wedeln... Wonder what I was thinking

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post #24 of 99
post #25 of 99
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Originally Posted by jacodb View Post

Surely Apple must know that Siri's voice recognition is not up to Apple standards. One can only hope.

Siri is really good at certain things like setting an alarm or getting sport scores. It is a mystery why she sucks so bad at so many other common requests. One thing that always irritates me is that she all too often returns a static page with tiny fonts instead of voice response. This is especially annoying when I am driving. She should know there is a pretty good chance I'm behind the wheel if she just checked the GPS for a few seconds while retrieving the data for my request. I would like her to say: It looks like you may be driving, would you like me to read aloud the contents of what I found?

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post #26 of 99
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Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Aha! That’s it. I knew it wasn’t quite right; thanks. From German ‘wedeln
... Wonder what I was thinking

I think I know what you mean. One would assume one is in the best position to know what one is thinking, but it appears there are many "ones."


The wiring is complex.
post #27 of 99
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Originally Posted by mstone View Post
 

Siri is really good at certain things like setting an alarm or getting sport scores. It is a mystery why she sucks so bad at so many other common requests. One thing that always irritates me is that she all too often returns a static page with tiny fonts instead of voice response. This is especially annoying when I am driving. She should know there is a pretty good chance I'm behind the wheel if she just checked the GPS for a few seconds while retrieving the data for my request. I would like her to say: It looks like you may be driving, would you like me to read aloud the contents of what I found?

 

Let's face it, as of today it still looks like effective artificial intelligence on a phone may be a long way off.

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post #28 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by huxley View Post

Apple apparently has a research lab in Boston made up of former VoiceSignal staff that have been working for a few years on a secret project. Maybe Nuance knows that Apple is about to cut its cord with them and are looking for some company to buy them out before that happens?

Not entirely secret but certainly nothing official announced by Apple. The Boston voice team includes Larry Gillick, formerly in research at Nuance and part of the old VoiceSignal group. There's also Gunnar Evermann who come ovedr to Apple from Nuance in 2011 and reportedly holds the title of Manager, Siri Speech and Don McAllister who has a deep background in VR tech going back to Dragon.
Edited by Gatorguy - 6/16/14 at 1:52pm
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post #29 of 99

Eh, whatever. Siri in iOS8 is amazing, so I'm pretty sure Apple has their own strong in-house solution by now. Samsung can go ahead and buy whatever the **** is wants. It's not like it will be able to execute the feature worth a damn. 

post #30 of 99
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Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I recommend Apple immediately buy IBM. Replace Siri with Watson and rename it "Steve".
 

 

Yep. After all, nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post
 

Eh, whatever. Siri in iOS8 is amazing, so I'm pretty sure Apple has their own strong in-house solution by now. Samsung can go ahead and buy whatever the **** is wants. It's not like it will be able to execute the feature worth a damn. 

 

 

This too. Even the most amazing R&D software efforts are commoditized after a couple years. Nuance's value in voice recognition is not likely to be significant for much longer.

post #31 of 99
Didn't Apple buy/rent or otherwise use the AT&T speech recognition technology sometime way back during the age of OS 9 and the beginning of OS X? Wasn't that for the purpose of building speech recognition and text-to-speech into the operating system? Do they still own the rights to the technology? If so, why would Apple need to buy Nuance, especially if the backend AI of Siri is their own product. The Nuance speech recognition may have been better at the time, but I would not be surprised to find Apple using the SR tech they have, combine it with the AI tech they have,improve up it, then create an all new, better performing, SIRI product.

It's not like they haven't done similar stuff in secret before now.

Oh yeah, and change the US English Male voice of Siri. Synthesize Steve's voice, instead, or as an option, for the sake of nostalgia and posterity.
post #32 of 99

The best part of the Beats acquisition was seeing epic Samsung shill LeBron James appear in the the newly-Apple-owned Beats commercial during the last game of the NBA Finals.

 

I dislike LeBron and Samsung both, but seeing that commercial was satisfying.  Not nearly as satisfying as watching the Heat get pummeled (again), but satisfying nonetheless.

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post #33 of 99
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Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post
 

Even though Siri apparently uses Nuance only for voice recognition and not for AI, it seems to me that this would have been a more important strategic and defensive acquisition than Beats was. 

 

get back to us when your company bears the fruit of your strategic maneuvering. 

post #34 of 99
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Originally Posted by RedHotFuzz View Post

 Not nearly as satisfying as watching the Heat get pummeled (again), but satisfying nonetheless.
+1 1biggrin.gif
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post #35 of 99
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Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

Didn't you know questioning the Beats acquisition is heresy around here? 1wink.gif

 

its not heresy -- there are just more people here who recognize clueless arm-chair CEOs than there are on other sites, say MacRumors.

post #36 of 99

Samsung can't afford Nuance and can't afford not to buy it.

It must suck to be Samsung.

post #37 of 99
Originally Posted by NolaMacGuy View Post

there are just more people here who recognize clueless arm-chair CEOs than there are on other sites, say MacRumors.

 

Are… you acquainted with MacRumors?

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post #38 of 99

WTF?!!

 

I guess Apple should go ALL in by itself .... :smokey: 

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....the lack of properly optimized apps is one of the reasons "why the experience on Android tablets is so crappy".

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post #39 of 99
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Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post
 

It must suck to be Samsung.

+1

 

...and it SUCKS even more owning anything with Samsung name on it. 

....the lack of properly optimized apps is one of the reasons "why the experience on Android tablets is so crappy".

Tim Cook ~ The Wall Street Journal - February 7, 2014

Inside Google! 

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....the lack of properly optimized apps is one of the reasons "why the experience on Android tablets is so crappy".

Tim Cook ~ The Wall Street Journal - February 7, 2014

Inside Google! 

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post #40 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

Didn't you know questioning the Beats acquisition is heresy around here? 1wink.gif

When discussing the Apple of today, it's usually best to judge them on outcomes, rather than make predictions about their initial moves. Apple tends to surprise and show they were right (with profit and consumer satisfaction to prove it) when the dust settles.

We can safely reserve early predictions for tech has-beens like Microsoft, who have, over the past decade, demonstrated a remarkable ability to doggedly ignore the obvious.
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