Monday, January 26, 2009

SVOX purchases Siemens AG speech-related IP

Following Nuance's acquisition of IBM speech technology intellectual property two weeks ago, Zurich-based SVOX today announced the purchase of the Siemens AG speech recognition technology group. The deal gears at creating "obvious synergies of developing TTS, ASR and speech dialog solutions" and enhances SVOX's portfolio of technologies, which to date included only highly specialized speech synthesis solutions, to now entail speech recognition.
Like the Nuance-IBM deal (and unlike the Microsoft acquisition of TellMe), this merger breaks with the obvious big-fish small-fish paradigm. Here, a larger company's (IBM, Siemens) R&D division was sold to a smaller, more specialized company (SVOX, Nuance).
Both transactions come with an intend to pursue development of novel interactive voice applications. However while Nuance announced the potential development of applications across platforms and environment with IBM expertise and IP, SVOX appears to stay on course with its successful line of automotive solutions to build
"a commanding market share in speech solutions for premium cars".

This deal adds SVOX to a list of companies offering network and embedded speech recognition technologies, also including Nuance, Telisma, Loquendo and Microsoft. Financial terms of the deal were not announced.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Nuance acquires IBM speech patents

Nuance yesterday announced the acquisition of speech-related patents from IBM. The deal encompasses a "licensing and technical services agreement", with IBM continuing to support existing customers. Integrated solutions of the two companies' technologies are expected in two years time, according to the press release.

This deal represents a further step in market consolidation, which Nuance has pursued via a number of mergers and acquisitions over the past years. Friends in the industry tell me IBM has been trying to market their suite of IVR voice application server software more aggressively, however speech research activity, once part of the company's "pervasive computing" vision, has declined lately.

Perhaps the IBM vision will bear fruit at Nuance, as the announcement comes with a commitment " to proliferate advanced speech capabilities across a broad range of devices and environments". One thing is sure: much like Nuance's recent acquisition of Philips voice products, years after taking over Philips IVR products and solutions, this deal represents another closure, as Nuance has been marketing and supporting IBM's ViaVoice product line for years. The de facto number of competitors on the speech and voice technology market is shrinking, as applications become more mainstream.