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Say What? Nuance Buys Jott for Speech Recognition Service

logoNuance Communications (s nuan), a provider of various speech recognition and predictive text products, said today it’s purchased Jott, whose service translates spoken messages into text and then emails or inserts them into various web services, for an undisclosed sum. As part of the deal, John Pollard, co-founder and CEO of Jott, will become a general manager in Nuance’s mobile division. Jott had previously raised $5.4 million from Bain Capital, Ackerley Partners, Draper Richards and Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom’s investment firm.

I started using Jott back in 2007, when it was a free service. I loved it. Apparently I wasn’t alone with my adoration, as it made what appeared to be a seamless and successful transition to a paid service in 2008, charging between $3.95 and $12.95  for a monthly subscription. Jott also has a (s crm) integration that allows mobile Salesforce users — a key market for Nuance — to call in and dictate information to the customer relationship management program.

Neither Pollard nor Michael Thompson, senior vice president and general manager at Nuance, would provide any user data or revenue figures for Jott. As to why Nuance decided to buy Jott rather than build its own, competing service, Thompson pointed to the fact that Jott had figured out how to successfully integrate its product into a variety of web services.

As people become more mobile, voice recognition services are increasingly being used by businesses and consumers eager to input information onto mobile phones or to maximize their time. For example, I use a program called vlingo to send urgent texts or emails while driving (for more on this topic check out the analysis over at GigaOM Pro on voice recognition technology and mobile use). Once the king of expensive dictation software for the medical community and customer service agents, Nuance is defending its speech recognition turf against Google (s goog) and Microsoft (s msft), both of which are making inroads into voice recognition technology.

19 Responses to “Say What? Nuance Buys Jott for Speech Recognition Service”

    • Stacey Higginbotham

      I didn’t realize that they had the story yesterday night (I was in bed when they posted the buyer, and this story was already filed). I took the embargo on the news, but John was clearly sleuthing away while I snoozed. They’re awesome like that at TechFlash.

      • Blogreader

        There was an embargo on the news? Now that’s an interesting story.

        From the other website it seems like an investors webpage gave hints to the purchase. I didn’t know that Nuane oR Jott was trying to control this info.

  1. James Im

    Congrats to Jott and Team. Also, as mentioned on the post by Stacey, I’m glad to see Nuance recognized the fact that it is difficult for large established companies to figure out how to integrate their legacy products that has been sold to Service Providers and large Enterprise with Web 2.0/Web Services. Sure… it can be done, but why build one if you can buy a start-up?

    Smart move for Nuance and I’m sure they will be offering an SDK and/or SaaS platform for carriers and enterprise customers to take advantage of a possible on-demand ASR/TTS/Speech-to-Text capabilities wrapped around a Web Services frame-work enabling its customers to build/market new features/functions on their existing/new services.

    Time to build up Professional Services/Consulting arm for Nuance.

      • James Im

        Igor – Great to hear that, but your customer references are only pointing to start-ups at least on your reply. What are your plans on moving up the food chain enabling larger enterprise/service providers as well as the ISV/SI’s to take advantage of your solution/platform? Nuance kidna owns the TTS/ASR market and have access to large customer base in multiple verticals; selling to existing customers are always much easier and I would love to see you guys start making noise/news!!!

        I’m assuming Jott has been sold not so much due to their user base/how they were monetizing, but the fact that they have been able to build traction with their service/application as well as successfully integrating with third party API/Web Services to create a whole new experience using the telephone/social media or the new buzz (real-time capabilities) lead to an acquisition and I’m sure Nuance would use such usage case or cases as a reference/benchmark to sell more stuff into their existing Enterprise/SP customers.

        Let’s now dig into to how much it was paid for the acquisition.

      • James, thank you for the kind words. That was an insightful counter regarding our references (for some reason the commenting system does not permit me to put this under your note). Regarding the food chain, there’s no reason to discuss that in an open forum; noisy fish get eaten in this industry and we’d rather remain the dark matter in this microcosm. We’ve learned to keep our mouths shut after we unveiled our initial concept at TechCrunch and saw competitors develop their own knockoffs.

        We have plans that we’ve been crisply executing on for quite awhile, with accuracy that now surpasses Google, Microsoft and Nuance. Nuance is simply a collection of bright people; and some of these same people responsible for their success now work at Yap (as do ex-IBMers, ex-Intel, ex-Nvidia, etc.). Any entity that wants this capability for themselves needs just ask us via our website. You’ll be up and running in minutes.