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.


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