Nuance to acquire Vlingo, may run out of competitors to buy (sue) in 2012


Major breaking news in speech tech: Nuance announced today that it will scoop up Vlingo. Oh, and happy Hanukkah (not in the press release).

Supposedly Vlingo was the other company that Apple was evaluating when developing Siri on the iPhone 4S. Here’s a bit of backstory between Vlingo and Nuance. It’s not pretty, but now it’s over. TechCrunch also chimes in.

This would be the gazillionth company that Nuance has acquired in recent years. In fact, there are hardly any other competitors left, so I predict that the speech giant may enter a new market soon. I’m thinking a wearable device for pets which will translate barks and meows into synthesized human speech. It’ll need a lot of animal test subjects in such case, therefore don’t be surprised if it starts buying pet stores (chains and mom-and-pops) as well as operate zoos.

General consumers and techies alike have raised concerns over AT&T buying T-Mobile (deal is now off) for fear of an anti-competitive carrier marketplace. Yet nobody thinks about the speech marketplace whenever they ask Siri to perform a task.

The press release:

Burlington, Mass. – December 20, 2011 – Nuance Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN) announced it has signed an agreement to acquire Vlingo, Inc. Fueled by unprecedented demand for intelligent voice interfaces that combine voice, language understanding and semantic processing, Nuance and Vlingo will combine their deep innovation and R&D expertise to deliver next-generation natural language interfaces across numerous markets and industries.

Consumer interest and demand for virtual assistant and voice-enabled capabilities have exploded in recent months, creating a $5 billion market opportunity that spans phones, tablets, cars, televisions, navigation devices, music players, PCs and more. Both Nuance and Vlingo see an unprecedented appetite for intelligent devices that understand the spoken word and deliver outcomes for consumers and professionals.

“Inspired 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,” said Mike Thompson, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Nuance Mobile.  “By acquiring Vlingo, we are able to accelerate the pace of innovation to meet this demand.”

“Vlingo and Nuance have long shared a similar vision for the power and global proliferation of mobile voice and language understanding. As a result of our complementary research and development efforts, our companies are stronger together than alone. Our combined resources afford us the opportunity to better compete, and offer a powerful proposition to customers, partners and developers,” said Dave Grannan, CEO, Vlingo.

By harnessing the combined expertise in voice, language and multilingual capabilities, Nuance will be able to take advantage of the adoption of intelligent mobile assistants, where consumers, businesses, doctors and patients can engage in more human, natural interactions with devices and systems all over the world.

Vlingo is a Virtual Assistant that turns your words into action by combining voice to text technology, natural language processing, and Vlingo’s Intent Engine to understand the user’s intent and take the appropriate action. Founded in 2006, Vlingo is backed by Charles River Ventures, Sigma Partners, Yahoo! and AT&T and headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more information, go to www.vlingo.com.

Nuance is a leading provider of voice and language solutions for businesses and consumers around the world. Its technologies, applications and services make the user experience more compelling by transforming the way people interact with information and how they create, share and use documents. Every day, millions of users and thousands of businesses experience Nuance’s proven applications and professional services. For more information, please visit: nuance.com.

Nuance and the Nuance logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Nuance Communications, Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States of America and/or other countries. All other company names or product names may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Statements in this press release regarding the proposed transaction between Nuance and Vlingo, the market opportunity, the pace of innovation, increased customer demand in the mobile market, future product offerings by the combined company, and any other statements about Nuance managements’ future expectations, beliefs, goals, plans or prospects constitute forward looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any statements that are not statements of historical fact (including statements containing the words “believes,” “plans,” “anticipates,” “expects,” estimates and similar expressions) should also be considered to be forward looking statements. There are a number of important factors that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those indicated by such forward looking statements, including the ability to consummate the transaction; the ability of Nuance to successfully integrate Vlingo’s operations and employees; the ability to realize anticipated synergies and cost savings; the failure to retain customers; and the other factors described in the ability of Nuance to integrate the product offerings of the combined companies and other the factors described in Nuance’s Annual Report on Form 10 K for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2011 and other filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Nuance disclaims any intention or obligation to update any forward looking statements as a result of developments occurring after the date of this press release.

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