Breaking news suggests Microsoft is preparing to purchase speech processing firm Nuance in a deal worth nearly $20 billion.
Reuters reports the larger company, a monolithic purveyor of operating systems and more, wants to acquire Nuance in a bid to enhance its cloud strategy in the healthcare sector.
“Today’s acquisition announcement represents the latest step in Microsoft’s industry-specific cloud strategy,” company spokespersons have clarified, according to reporting at TechCrunch.
Microsoft is offering $56 per share – Nuance shares currently stand around $53 per share as of press time.
Another reason the deal would make sense is that Nuance contributed to the build of Apple’s Siri technology, the front-running voice command assistant on smartphones.
And although healthcare may be Microsoft’s target, Nuance is widely useful beyond its clinical applications.
The Nuance company started in 1992 as Visioneer and eventually purchased many aspects of its flagship speech-to-text technology from another firm, then creating the kind of brand visibility that has made Dragon a household name.
Over the years, Nuance became a unique firm in its field – over the last decade, as people talk about out-of-the-box speech-to-text products, Dragon is the market leader and as for a runner-up, nothing really popped up until Google started to offer its own speech-to-text service.
Apparently, Microsoft believes that acquiring Nuance will help it to get a foothold in the market for electronic medical records, charting and other clinical tools, although Nuance is apparently selling its medical transcription and electronic health record Go-Live services to a firm called Assured Healthcare Partners and Aeries Technology Group.
“With this sale, we will reach an important milestone in our journey towards a more focused strategy of advancing our Conversational AI, natural language understanding and ambient clinical intelligence solutions,” said Nuance CEO Mark according to TechCrunch, where Ron Miller reports on the deal’s status.
“The transaction has already been approved by both company boards and Microsoft reports it expects the deal to close by the end of this year, subject to standard regulatory oversight and approval by Nuance shareholders,” Miller writes.
Look for this deal’s ramifications in the broader technology market.