Microsoft announced its plan to acquire speech recognition and artificial intelligence company Nuance for US$19.7 billion (~RM81.4 billion). Nuance is known for its previous work on Apple’s Siri, the famous voice assistant on the company’s devices.
As the BBC noted, the price tag for the firm’s acquisition is second only to Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn in 2016. Microsoft forked out US$26 billion (~RM105 billion) for the professional networking platform.
Microsoft indicated that Nuance’s acquisition was part of its greater push into the healthcare industry. The speech recognition firm makes an array of healthcare-oriented products, like software that helps doctors dictate patient notes and automate radiology reports, the BBC said.
“Nuance provides the AI layer at the healthcare point of delivery and is a pioneer in the real-world application of enterprise AI,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “AI is technology’s most important priority, and healthcare is its most urgent application.”
According to Microsoft, Nuance is currently used by 77% of US hospitals, and over 55% of physicians and 75% of radiologists in the US.
Microsoft had only just finished another high-profile acquisition – US$7.5 billion (~RM31 billion) for gaming juggernaut Zenimax Media, better known as the parent company of Bethesda Softworks. The purchase solidified Microsoft’s status as a major player in gaming development, giving it access to popular franchises such as The Elder Scrolls, Doom, and Fallout.
Now, there are rumours floating that Microsoft is also eying Discord, the gamer-centric chatting platform. Founded decades ago by Bill Gates, the tech giant is known for pricey, headline-grabbing acquisitions, while rival Apple prefers smaller-bore purchases.