Will Siri have to answer to Samsung?

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Date: Wednesday, June 18th, 2014, 08:01
Category: Apple, Business, iPhone, Mac, News, Samsung, Siri, Software

siri-icon-ios7According to The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), the voice-recognition tech company behind Apple’s Siri assistant may be in talks with Samsung to sell its technology to Apple’s most notorious competitor. Nuance has reportedly been in talks with several potential buyers as the company seeks to sell off its highly sought after voice-to-text translation software. According to some sources familiar with one of the companies involved, Samsung and other private-equity firms have been part of discussions surrounding a possible sale of the company. In addition to Siri, Nuance provides the technology behind Dragon Naturally Speaking software for both Mac and PC, as well as Samsung’s own phones, tablets, and wearable devices.

Samsung’s approximate value before the talks was around $5.5 billion, which naturally jumped once the WSJ’s article was published. This topic would be hot enough, but with the possible outcome affecting one of Apple’s key advertised iOS and CarPlay features, one has to wonder where Apple is positioned for the outcome. Siri itself, which is basically the interface and the data fetching software, is owned by Apple, but the magic that happens behind the scenes when you ask Siri to perform an action depends on Nuance’s servers and translation software. This is why Siri gives you the equivalent of a blank stare when you have no network connection. Without Nuance, Siri can’t understand what you are saying. There is no indication that Samsung has any advantage over any other interested party, but with both Samsung and Apple heavily invested in the technology for their products, and given the long, difficult history between the two companies, the fate of Nuance bears some scrutiny. If any other investor grabs Nuance, both Apple and Samsung will happily continue to license the software, but what if it ended up in the hands of one of the companies that have been engaged in court battles with one another since 2012. Apple currently buys parts for its devices from Samsung without any noticeable problems, perhaps because of the sheer volume Apple uses for its products, but what if Samsung were to choose to make the voice recognition capabilities exclusive to their own mobile devices as a selling point?

Do you think Apple will jump into the fray at some point, or does it have a contingency plan? Would a purchase by Samsung even affect Apple or Siri? What do you think either company would do if it acquired Nuance? Let us know in the comments or on the Facebook page.



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