If You Can’t Beat ’em, Eat ’em: Nuance Buying Vlingo


Last May we published a post entitled Bloomberg Businessweek: A More Nuanced Approach to Discussing Nuance Please. In it I wrote

Yesterday Bloomberg Businessweek published a rather scathing article about Nuance and its approach to business; it was heavy-handed and one might say once-sided.

I went on to say that

The article highlights the back and forth between Nuance/Ricci and Vlingo and it is, at times, a bit unpleasant to read. It notes that Ricci offered significant monetary incentives to Vlingo’s co-founders if they could persuade the Vlingo board to sell to Nuance and, if that did not happen, would pay them the same amount to come to Nuance. Hardball? Yes. Illegal? I don’t think so and you can bet Vlingo would have pursued it if there were grounds.

Now it turns out that the fight is over. No more accusations. No more lawsuits. No more issues. Not because the companies have settled their differences but because Nuance just ate Vlingo. The amount was undisclosed but the deal does look like it will come to fruition.

While this Bloomberg Business article doesn’t have the same lack of nuance as the one last May it does contain some misunderstandings of the current voice-recognition market and wheat this purchase means. For example, the article says

Nuance Communications Inc. agreed to buy Vlingo Inc. in a deal that gives the developer of voice- command technology a system that can respond to spoken words with actions such as Internet searches.

In fact, Nuance’s technology can ALREADY “respond to spoken words with actions such as Internet searches”. Just check out Dragon Go or… Siri.

The article goes on to say that

The purchase will help capture rising demand for voice-command technology, which is being driven by devices such as Apple Inc.’s Siri, Nuance said.

In fact, Nuance has already captured the market and Siri is already driven by Nuance’s technology. (Not to mention the fact that “Apple Inc.’s Siri” isn’t a “device” it is a technology the is built INTO a device. Sloppy sloppy.)  This purchase means there is one less competitor to Nuance, a company who already pretty much own the voice recognition market. It also means that Nuance has one less on-going legal battle to fight.

I’m a big fan of Nuance and their technology but I’m actually not all too thrilled by this recent development. Competition keeps everyone on their toes and while I don’t see Nuance slowing down in their ongoing work to create the best voice recognition technology possible I am sorry to see one less competitor out there pushing the process forward.

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.