Wonder why everything isn't speech controlled?

[nik's note: this is not my opinion, but that of the original author]

I don't really care that American Airlines can recognize my voice responses on the phone. The only speech application that actually benefits me on a day-to-day basis is on my cell phone, and that's pretty basic stuff.
For the most part, we're still banging away on computer keyboards and drowning in a sea of proprietary consumer electronics devices and remote controls.

Courtesy of dozens of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) over the past 13 years, Nuance now owns much of the speech technology on planet Earth. The company boasts a $3.5 billion market cap on annual sales that will likely top $800 million this fiscal year but, remarkably, has never been profitable. I can see why. Nuance has been so busy acquiring companies it hasn't had a chance to worry about a little thing like profitability. The company's history is a tribute to M&A gluttony.

The fact that the company says little about aggressively driving its technology into the consumer space is telling. That's simply not its business plan, and I can certainly understand why. The consumer electronics market is highly fragmented with thin margins and high support costs. And if Nuance wishes to avoid that, well, there really isn't much competition left to twist its arm.

Still, the next time you get off the phone with an automated call-center that communicates eerily well, only to fumble around with the myriad of keyboards, buttons, and remote controls in your own life, at least you'll know what name to curse: Nuance Communications.

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