Rumor: Apple chatting with Nuance about possible deal?

The rumor mill that surrounds Apple is pretty massive and every day there's always something that's leaked out into the Internet blogs and media sites that involves the normally very secretive company. One of the latest rumors has been posted up by Tech Crunch. It claims that numerous unnamed sources have told the site that Apple has been talking to Nuance Communications for months about a deal that could see the two companies team up.

While you may not be familiar with the name Nuance you might be familiar with some of its products. It's the parent company of the Dragon Speech Recognition Software products that allow users to speak into a microphone connected to a PC and have their words show up in word processor software. It can also be used to launch apps on a PC as well as other features. Nuance also has other products that are used by businesses, including health care organizations.

Tech Crunch's story claims that any kind of Nuance deal with Apple is likely related to Apple's previous acquisition of Siri in April 2010. Siri created an app for Apple's iPhone device that acts as a personal assistant, allowing iPhone users to speak into the phone to, say, find a list of fun things to do in Charlotte. Siri then brings up such a list after accessing other search services. Siri's technology uses Nuance's speech recognition tech.

The story posted up a rumor that Siri's app will be a big part of the next version of the iOS software from Apple and since Nuance is used by Siri that means that Apple might want to find a deal that will allow Apple to license Nuance's technology for the iOS. The story also brings up the possibility of Apple buying Nuance outright but adds that Nuance's net worth is estimated to be $6 billion. While Apple could certainly afford that (it has $60 billion in cash) it appears that Nuance's executives can be tough to negotiate with and that a better option might be just to agree to a big license agreement.

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3 Comments

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I think the biggest hint that this is actually happening is that Nuance bought ShapeWriter (http://www.shapewriter.com) a while back, and immediately the app disappeared from the App Store andd Android Store. That is probably just as valuable to Apple as the speech dictation products from Nuance. Apple very likely wants to implement a swipe keyboard into iOS and partnering up with Nuance seems like a plausible way to do that, especially if there are patents involved.

I can't see an outright purchase happening any time soon, Nuance makes far too much money in the enterprise paper/document workflow sector (see eCopy's previous products, IRIS, Canon et al.) which really does not interest Apple.