Nuance Adds Tegic to Mobile Platform

Nuance Communications today announced the purchase of AOL LLC
subsidiary Tegic, the developers behind the T9 predictive text input
software already installed on more than 2.5 billion devices.

The plan is to integrate the T9 software with Nuance’s voice-recognition
capabilities to create a new mobile user interface that combines
voice, text and touch. Time Warner and AOL decided to shed Tegic
in order to focus even more on mobile advertising.

The deal will cost Nuance approximately $265 million in cash.

“We are poised to redefine the way people interact with their mobile
devices, delivering a more convenient, simple way for consumers to
control features and access information on their phones, and search
and navigate the mobile Web,” Paul Ricci, chairman and CEO at Nuance,
said in a statement.

Of course, Nuance has been poised for many things over the years.

In
1998, Nuance joined with Motorola, Visa International and BroadVision to introduce V-Commerce, which is intended to bring
Internet e-commerce to the telephone. By its initial public offering
in April 2000, Nuance would go on to add over 150 business customers,
including Bell Atlantic, Charles Schwab, Cheap Tickets, Dell Japan,
General Electric, Merrill Lynch, Motorola, and Sears.

Despite the
perhaps ill-timed IPO, Nuance continued on independently until
2005, when rival ScanSoft purchased it for $221 million in stock.

Since, the company has pursued the mobile strategy further
articulated today. In October 2006, Nuance debuted Nuance Mobile
Dictation
, which lets mobile phone users use speech to create
text messages.

Now, Nuance said it plans to combine speech,
handwriting and predictive text into a single, unified interface
platform.

In AOL, Nuance found a parent company happy to part with technology
needed for such a platform.

“This sale also lets us focus our mobile business on building strong
consumer-based, ad-supported mobile experiences,” AOL Chairman and
CEO Randy Falco said in a statement. To that end, AOL recently acquired Third Screen Media, a mobile-advertising
network and mobile ad-serving and management-platform provider.

Nuance said it expects the transaction to close during the company’s fiscal
fourth quarter, though it remains subject to customary closing
conditions and regulatory approvals.

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