Australia’s competition watchdog, the ACCC, has weighed in on Microsoft’s acquisition of speech recognition/AI company Nuance. Microsoft is set to pay around $21 billion for the company that helped build Apple’s Siri virtual assistant.
The ACCC said Microsoft can shell out billions on Nuance because they aren’t competing companies. The ACCC is basing this on Nuance having a super strong presence in the healthcare market.
“Microsoft does not currently provide this specialised technology, and it appears unlikely to become a strong competitor to Nuance. This transaction is therefore unlikely to substantially lessen competition in the healthcare transcription market,” ACCC commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said.
The ACCC also said the proposed acquisition was unlikely to substantially lessen competition in the customer engagement solutions market, which is one of Microsoft’s sweet spots.
“Microsoft does not compete with Nuance in the supply of these products to businesses because its tools are aimed at software developers, rather than finished products that can be used by businesses engaging with customers,” it said.
Microsoft announced its intentions to buy Nuance back in April.
“By augmenting the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare with Nuance’s solutions, as well as the benefit of Nuance’s expertise and relationships with EHR systems providers, Microsoft will be better able to empower healthcare providers through the power of ambient clinical intelligence and other Microsoft cloud services,” it said at the time.
What this means in plain English is that it plans on using Nuance’s tech to further push its presence in the healthcare space.
But there’s more to Nuance than just healthcare. Its client base is huge.
As the former CEO of SpeechWorks (which was acquired by Nuance in 2003 when it went by the name ScanSoft) told the Boston Globe: the company “has more intellectual property around speech than anybody on Earth”.
The big are getting bigger.