Nuance Will Acquire BeVocal

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Speech and imaging solutions supplier Nuance Communications continues the acquisition tidal wave that began with its purchase of Lernout & Hauspie in 2001. The latest round of buy-outs has found Nuance acquiring BeVocal, a selfservice customer care solutions provider targeted at the mobile communications market, for approximately $140 million.

From this acquisition, Nuance is positioned to gain mobile customers such as Cingular, Liberty Wireless, Metro PCS, and Virgin Mobile. The customers are not the only assets that will be brought on board through the acquisition. Nuance also stands to amass yet another applications and services portfolio. BeVocal's speechbased solutions, available in Softwareas- a-Service and subscription-based models, are designed specifically for the mobile industry with features such as handset activation, customer care, promotional offers, and sales and fulfillment of add-on features. Other services include a speech-based ringtone download store, weather reports, stock quotes, sports updates, trivia, personalized wake-up calls, and more. In addition to these applications and services, Nuance will intake the BeVocal Café, a Web-based development environment with the tools and resources to enable developers to create their own speech applications.

As for the impact that this acquisition will have, Nuance sees it as an added value to offerings for its customers. "It addresses the mobile market, and clearly we see the mobile market as an area where speech has a particularly appealing value proposition," explains Lynda Kate Smith, vice president and general manager of the Care Business Unit at Nuance. "It is an opportunity to further our efforts in the mobile space. It helps us solidify relationships with customers like Cingular, MetroPCS, and Vonage; and it gives us an interesting line of revenue."

"The communications landscape is changing dramatically and mobile is at the center of the change. Mobile carriers are faced with new customer service needs that cannot be met with call center agents," Mikael Berner, president and CEO of BeVocal, said in a statement. "Joining Nuance will provide us with the reach to expand our market penetration and early access to technology advancements that achieve optimized performance for customers as well as net new capabilities."

"The acquisition of BeVocal is consistent with other moves that Nuance has made in the past few months that are designed to position itself as a major vendor in the mobile space," concludes Judith Markowitz, president of J. Markowitz Consultants.

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