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RealTime IT News

Another Feather in AOL's Cap

America Online Inc. Thursday acquired privately-held Quack.com, a speech-activated Internet portal that uses the same underlying voice-recognition technology that AOL is banking on.

As a result of the transaction, one of Quack.com's shareholders, Bid.com, disclosed it would receive CDN$24 million worth of AOL stock . However, because terms of the transaction weren't disclosed, Bid.com would not comment on what percent its stake represented in Quack.com.

Quack.com uses spoken commands over the telephone to provide consumers with online information. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company uses the voice-recognition technology developed by SpeechWorks, which went public earlier this summer. AOL bought a 1-percent stake in SpeechWorks for $5 million and has warrants to purchases additional shares. The SpeechWorks' technology has already been incorporated into the popular Moviefone ticketing service, another AOL property.

AOL said the Quack.com deal allows it to take a step toward advancing its AOL Anywhere strategy, which designed to provide members access to AOL applications from a wide range of devices. The company, though, hasn't yet formalized this strategy and declined to comment on future product developments.

"Our members want to access news, stock quotes and email, no matter where they are," said Ted Leonsis, president of AOL Interactive Properties Group. "Quack.com's technology will help extend the AOL experience beyond the PC and give members the ability to turn wireless or home or office phone into a robust AOL access device."

AOL's purchase of Quack.com was mutually beneficial for Bid.Com International, which gave up its equity position in Quack.com in exchange for AOL stock.

Bid.Com, a global application provider of dynamic pricing solutions, reported it would receive shares AOL common stock valued at CDN$24 million. That represents gains of CDN$23 million over its initial financial investment of CDN$1 million.