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Monday, June 16, 2014, 12:02 pm PT (03:02 pm ET)

Apple partner Nuance exploring sale, reportedly in talks with Samsung

Nuance Communications, the voice recognition company whose technology helps to power Apple's Siri personal assistant, is said to be exploring a sale of the company, with Apple rival Samsung allegedly a potential suitor.

Siri


Nuance's apparent interest in a sale was first revealed on Monday by The Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources. Nuance is based in Burlington, Mass., and licenses its voice recognition technology to a number of major companies, chief among them Samsung and Apple.

Though the partnership between Nuance and Apple was long assumed, the company officially confirmed last year that its technology helps to power Siri, which is found on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Nuance CEO Paul Ricci revealed that his company's technology is "the fundamental provider of voice recognition for Apple."

Some industry watchers and investors have suggested that Apple should make a play to buy Nuance and own the technology behind Siri while cutting out competitors like Samsung or the Google Now service found in Android. Last year, investors speculated that Apple could acquire Nuance for $7 billion — a price well beyond anything Apple has ever spent on an acquisition.

Of course, Apple recently did join the billion-dollar-acquisition club with its blockbuster $3 billion buyout of Beats, which was confirmed last month.

Nuance's technology does not handle Siri's artificial intelligence layers. Instead, the company's products simply provides the capability of Siri, or other voice-driven services, to interpret a user's voice. That data must then be contextually deciphered to provide the kind of humanized response a user expects.