Samsung wants to buy the company that powers Siri

Apple-Siri

Apple’s Siri feature has been a crown jewel of iOS ever since it launched in 2011, but the company and the tech behind it might fall into the hands of Apple’s number one enemy – Samsung.

Nuance Communications is in discussions with a number of potential suitors looking to buy the company, and Samsung Electronics is at the top of the list, according to Wall Street Journal report that also names a few private-equity firms among the list of possible buyers, but Apple is nowhere to be found.

Talks to purchase the Burlington-based company began earlier this year, with a number of companies lining up to get their hands on the speech-recognition software maker that provides services for Apple’s Siri smart assistant.

Nuance is currently valued around $5.5 billion, but talks of an acquisition have already sent its stock price upwards. The infamous AAPL lover and hater Carl Icahn stands to make the most from a potential sale, as his investment firm owns about 19% of the company and holds two spots on the board, according to the latest filings in March.

In addition to Siri, Nuance also powers Samsung’s voice recognition features in its smartphones, televisions, and tablets and counts Nintendo, Panasonic and Daimler AG among its other customers.

With $1.86 billion in revenue last year, the company’s largest earnings came from its health-care unit which could surely be utilized by Apple for its upcoming iWatch and Health Kit, but Apple¬†has yet to show interest in buying the company. Does Cupertino¬†have its own solution in the works?

  • RF9

    I think Apple might have plans to use license Cortana from Microsoft if they don’t have their own that they’re working on (which they well could be.) I only say this because MS and Apple have been joining forces against Google over the last couple of years. I don’t think Siri is as good as the competition. It was impressive when it came out, but Google’s voice and Cortana are both better.

    • Kr00

      What planet are you on? You obviously haven’t used Siri lately. Cortina is the ugly sister in comparison. May I suggest you use the technology before commenting on it. As for Apple licensing Cortana, you are deranged. Apple have a 3 year head start on MS and have it integrated across their OS, can MS claim that?

      Where on earth do morons like this come from, seriously?

      • RF9

        You attack was uncalled for and misplaced. You have some issues to sort out.
        I use Siri daily and I’m certainly not a moron.
        Go check in to the nearest mental health facility or just go outside and play for a few minutes. A little vitamin D might do you some good..

      • Windlasher

        Gotta love the web.

      • Kr00

        No, I called you out on such an idiotic post. I’m sorry you can’t handle the truth.

        To assert Apple should license a product that has only just been released, which is in beta, and has been graded poorly by many testers, is nothing more than idiotic. I’m happy for you to prove me wrong.

        Making degrading comments about a person mental health says volumes about you sir. You’ve just validated my point of me calling you a moron.

        Next time you have a brain fart, keep it to yourself.

        Have a happy life.

      • RF9

        Now you’re just being a hypocrite.

      • Kr00

        How am I being a hypocrite? Now you’re projecting your inadequacies onto others.

        I said, have a good life, what more do you want?

        It’s not my fault you don’t have the intelligence to articulate on the forums here. The answer to that problem is in the mirror. Take a deep long look, you’ll find it.

      • RF9

        Wow, for someone throwing around the words moron and idiot, you just don’t get it.

      • Kr00

        But you are. How more clear must I be? Don’t you get it do you? Your comments were stupid. I called you out on it with some facts, but you still whine about it. Just admit it and get over it. Geez.

        At least I don’t go around disparaging someone mental health as a retort. Thats shows you for who you are. Now move along. You’re becoming tiresome. If you have anything intelligent to say, I might take a look.

    • Yunik

      You have not used sir and Google now and cortana side by side have you.? Well Siri was lot better then Google now and little behind Cortana. You Apple Haters are so moron

      • RF9

        A) I’m not an Apple hater. I’m actually very much an Apple user, customer, and fan.
        B) I’ve used all 3, but Cortana only a little.

        Yes, Cortana is not better. That was a ridiculous thing to say. What I meant is that MS has voice recognition technology that Apple could use to move Siri to instead of using Nuance if they needed to break from Samsung. Apple would keep their Siri engine but use MS for the speech recognition and MS has good (enough) speech recognition.

        I was digging on Siri a bit because I find it frustrating, slow ,and inaccurate at times. But that’s personal.

        As for Google, all I can say is that Google transcribes what you say in real time with no delay and nearly no errors. Siri is slow and has about a 90% accuracy rate based on my experience no matter how slowly and clearly I speak (and I don’t have an accent.) As for the intelligence of Google Now vs Siri, that’s another issue. I was talking about speech to text accuracy which is what Nuance provides if I’m not totally mistaken.

  • mahadragon

    I’ve used Google Voice and Siri. I think Google Voice is a little more reliable, but I’ve been using Siri for the past year and it works for me. Neither Google Voice nor Siri will understand if you use words that aren’t commonly used.

    Part of using voice command depends on user. When I first started using it I had trouble. Now I speak slowly, and clearly into the mic, make sure there’s little background noise, and enunciate my words. I get much better results now.

    If you just press the button and speak like you’re talking to a friend you will have some problems. It doesn’t work like that.

  • http://about.me/davidgoscinny David Goscinny

    Wasn’t this kind of takeover talk the reason Nuance did a “poison pill” last year?

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2013/08/21/nuance-seen-on-the-defensive-with-poison-pill-move/

    • http://twitter.com/whcir Rich W

      The poison pill is only to prevent hostile takeovers and ensure that an acquisition goes through Nuance’s board of directors to do so. So, Samsung Electronics could acquire Nuance, but they’re going to pay a premium, probably over $10 billion. That’s a lot of money to pay even if they plan to renew current Nuance licensing contracts when they expire.

  • TeeJay2000

    I asked Siri to tell me a joke about Apple. She said “Let me think…Nope, can’t think of one”.

    I think that will change with a Samsung purchase.

    • http://twitter.com/whcir Rich W

      No, it won’t. Nuance has nothing to do with Siri’s answers or witty responses. It only translates a person’s speech into text, which is then passed to Siri for processing. And it will be processed the way Apple has programmed Siri.

  • Rob Bowers

    Nuance is the primary supplier of voice recognition and Text to Speech for a lot of applications. IVR use these extensively (press or say 1 to speak to sales) in the telecom industry.

    Sammy uses these for speech on their phones, so the only direct benefit is dropping the cost they pay Nuance for the use of the software on their mobile devices, this is hardly worth billions. To exclude Apple and others from using Nuance software would kill the value of the acquisition. Instead, they probably just want to make more $$$ off of Apple, hardware and now SW components.

    • http://twitter.com/whcir Rich W

      That’s very true. But they really shouldn’t count Apple’s licensing contracts in the total value of Nuance because Apple is likely developing its own technology to replace Nuance. They even made an acquisition and hires that point to that eventual possibility.

  • FootSoldier

    I don’t think apple wants or needs Nuance. They acquired a better company called Novauris and with that purchase they managed to higher the founder of Dragon Dictations Systems, Dr. James Baker. Nuance bought Dragon from James Baker.

    • RF9

      I wasn’t aware of that. So it’s likely they’ve been working on their own in-house solution, likely for quite a long time now. I think Apple would prefer to get away from relying partners for core functions (as was demonstrated by maps.)
      Thanks for that tip.

  • Grunt_at_the_Point

    All the while I thought Siri was an Apple invention.

  • thomas

    this is bad news

  • Sean

    Facebook will buy it for 20 billion

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Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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