According to a new report out of the Wall Street Jounral, speech and dictation service Nuance Communications has held acquisition talks with Samsung and has been exploring the possibility of a sale. It is widely speculated that the Apple’s virtual assistant Siri is powered by Nuance in the back-end. Samsung started partnering with Nuance late in 2013 for the voice recognition functionalities on its Galaxy Gear smart watch and Galaxy Note 3 smartphone.
Trading of Nuance stock was also halted this afternoon due to volatility. The company’s shares were up over roughly 6 percent before being trading was halted. The stock could have been up because of the rumored acquisition… or because of the new Dominos partnership.
In an interview before the launch of the service on the iPhone, the cofounder of Siri discussed the importance of Nuance to the service. Siri was originally built based on Vlingo, another voice recognition company. Since then, however, Vlingo was acquired by Nuance Communications. If Samsung and Nuance are, in fact, in acquisition talks, then it could spell trouble for Apple and its virtual assistance.
Samsung, of course, offers its own virtual assistant called S Voice. Its service is also based on the Vlingo virtual assistance.
Nuance recorded $1.86 billion in revenue during the last fiscal year. The company has a market capitalization of roughly $5.5 billion prior to reports of an acquisition broke. In addition to Samsung, Nuance has also reportedly held talks with Panasonic, Nintendo, and Daimler AG. Carl Icahn is the biggest shareholder of the company with a 19 percent stake.