Rumor: Apple Buying Nuance

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak set a lot of buzz in motion by casually asserting that Apple had acquired Nuance in a grainy TV interview. There are many reasons to think that this isn't correct. TechCrunch says that he might have been referring to Siri, which Apple did buy. However Woz explicitly distinguishes between Nuance and Siri, so clearly he wasn't referring to Siri.

He probably misspoke and, as my colleague Authour pointed out, Nuance's stock price doesn't reflect that investors are giving any credibility to the "rumor" or statement. 

The rumor however does raise the question of voice search or voice enabled actions on the iPhone. Google's speech recognition has become highly refined and arguably industry leading. The fact that all text fields on Android devices are speech enabled is something of a differentator for the handsets vs. the iPhone. Apple doesn't have any of that technology in house. Siri relies on Nuance for voice recognition. 

There are quite a few small companies including Vlingo and Yap that would be substantially cheaper (though perhaps not as good) as Nuance, if Apple were to consider acquiring a speech company. I suspect that over time Apple will come to see speech as a strategic capability and try and bring it in house. This may not be that time however. 

Related: Nuance released Q4 results yesterday and announced that it was behind voice recognition built into Ask.com's new Q&A app for the iPhone and the new Amazon Price Check app.