Nuance Sets Lofty 2010 Goals

Now that Nuance's VoiceControl mobile search and messaging service has hit the 1 million mark for speech-enabled transactions, the company is ready to take on a much more daunting goal. By the end of the decade, Nuance plans to have its speech-enabled mobile services on a par with traditional 411, desktop search, and email.

"Voice search is a very attractive market. As with speech analytics, it is likely to quickly evolve from simple information search and access to higher-level analysis and synthesis. Although I expect these kinds of operations to continue to grow the goal of having voice-based search be as pervasive as traditional 411 and email are today by 2010 is optimistic," says Judith Markowitz, independent analyst.

"Usage frequency of our speech-enabled mobile messaging and mobile search service has nearly doubled in just nine months, suggesting that the more individual users see what's possible with tools such as speech-enabled mobile search, the more they use it," Michael Thompson, vice president and general manager, telco, search, and communications at Nuance, said in a statement.

Based on a study that Nuance performed on its mobile services, the top two usages for speech in mobile services are search and e-mail/SMS. In the search category, users requested business listing and yellow pages information most often, followed closely by Web browsing by voice. E-mail far outweighed the other messaging options, such as e-mail dictation, voice dialing, and SMS, but all afford the influence needed to extend the speech industry's reach into the mobile market. Nuance sees this as an opportunity to increase the use of speech exponentially.

According to a previous statement from Thompson, "research suggests that by delivering single-button access to Web content and messaging, Nuance is helping mobile users unlock the full potential of mobile device Web and data capabilities, thereby creating significant value opportunities for users and operators alike. Our goal is to make mobile search as pervasive as traditional 411 and desktop Web search."

That might not be as easy as Thompson expects, though. "Nuance's goal to make mobile search as pervasive as traditional 411 and desktop Web search is possible (if there is substantial support given from the carriers and high user adoption) but we don't see this happening in the short-term," says Daniel Hong, senior analyst at Datamonitor.

"If we are to roll out the tape over the next few years we definitely see the market for mobile speech applications growing tremendously in terms of usage and penetration. While the 1 million transaction milestone is important it loses some of its significance when looking at the bigger picture. There are over 200 million mobile subscribers in the US alone," Hong explains.

"Optimism has always been a key driver for speech. It has pushed the industry unrelentingly forward for as long as I can remember. So, the very act of setting this goal of pervasiveness is a sign that the industry's energy remains unabated," Markowitz states.   

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