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Samsung reportedly in talks to buy Nuance, the software firm behind Siri

The firm behind the technology that powers Siri – Apple’s voice-activated virtual assistant – is reportedly in talks with Samsung over a possible acquisition deal.

People with knowledge of Samsung’s interest in Nuance told the Wall Street Journal that representatives from the pair first met “earlier this year”, with further discussions having taken place since. The Journal added that at this stage it’s not clear where the talks currently stand, or if they’re likely to lead to a deal. It added that Nuance had also been talking with a number of private equity firms.

Massachusetts-based Nuance already licenses its technology to a number of companies besides Apple – Samsung, Amazon and Nintendo among them. Already used in a number of the Korean tech giant’s products, including its smartphones and televisions, Nuance announced last fall that its technology would also be incorporated into Samsung’s wearable devices.

Nuance and Siri

Though many industry watchers had long believed Apple was using Nuance’s technology to power Siri, both companies kept quiet on the matter for some time. Then, in May last year, Nuance CEO Paul Ricci confirmed his company was a “fundamental provider for Apple.”

It may come as a surprise to learn that one of Apple’s biggest rivals may end up buying a firm that’s so closely tied with a high-profile element of iOS, but at worst it’ll mean the Cupertino company will have to seek out another firm to provide Siri’s speech-recognition technology – unless, of course, Apple jumps in and snaps up Nuance before anyone else. Alternatively, it could also develop a speech-recognition solution of its own, with a report last summer suggesting it was in the middle of doing just that.

Apple’s voice-activated virtual assistant debuted on the iPhone 4S in 2011. Google offers a similar feature for Android users with Google Now, while Microsoft recently announced Cortana, its own version for Windows Phone. You can see how they compare here.

[Source: WSJ, MacRumors]

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