Samsung & Apple to embark on bidding war over Siri tech provider Nuance?


Samsung has held talks to buy Nuance Communications, in a move that could trigger a bidding war with its arch-rival Apple.

Nuance is behind the standalone Dragon voice recognition software used on desktops and mobiles. The firm also owns the popular Swype keyboard software.

The Boston-based firm generated$1.8 billion in revenue during 2013, but has chalked up losses in the last six quarters.

The firm's voice recognition technology is licensed to a variety of tech firm's including Panasonic and Samsung. Audi, BMW and Ford use the technology for their in-car systems, and Nuance also has a massive presence in the medical field.

Although Apple has never publicly acknowledged any connection to Nuance, it's an open secret that the speech recognition on the Siri personal assistant is processed using the Boston-based firm's technology.

Nuance is estimated to be worth over $6 billion.

Samsung is believed to want Nuance to develop specific voice recognition for its wearable devices and to no doubt control which other companies have access to the technology. Preliminary acquisition talks are said to have taken place earlier this week, sources told the Wall Street Journal.

Apple has been linked with a buyout of Nuance before. Co-founder Steve Wozniak famously misspoke in 2010, stating in an interview that Apple had purchased Nuance. This lead to a spike in Nuance shares but the statement was quickly corrected.

The iPhone maker is sitting on a $150 billion cash pile and investors are eager to see it snap up exciting companies. If Apple does decide to make a play for Nuance against Samsung, it could be the most exciting bidding war since Dell and HP battled it out to acquire 3PAR in 2010.

Apple's most recent high-profile acquisition was of the popular Beats Electronics brand for $3 billion. This baffled many in the technology community, and lead to claims Apple didn't know what to do with its cash reserve.

Meanwhile, Samsung has been more conservative with acquisitions. Since 2010, the Korean firm has spent a total of $1 billion on 14 companies.

At an event in Seoul in November 2013, Samsung's CFO Lee Sang Hoon said the firm would be more aggressive going forward in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage and there would be a focus on software.

Khidr Suleman is the Technical Editor at IT Pro, a role he has fulfilled since March 2012. He is responsible for the reviews section on the site  - so get in touch if you have a product you think might be of interest to the business world. He also covers the hardware and operating systems beats. Prior to joining IT Pro, Khidr worked as a reporter at Incisive Media. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.