Strong Gains Expected for Speech

The voice recognition software developers industry had a few years of static during the recession, but rising disposable incomes and technological advances have helped it rebound strongly, according to a new report from IBISWorld.

As the healthcare sector increasingly streamlines record-keeping and similar tasks, voice recognition software is gaining in popularity as a way to conveniently transfer those records. But, while strong growth is expected on the back of mobile Internet devices, open-source software could stifle traditionally strong profit margins, the report warns.

According to the report, revenue for the voice recognition software developers industry is expected to increase an average of 2.3 percent annually to $1.1 billion during the five years to 2012. In 2012 alone, industry revenue is expected to grow 5 percent due to a 7.9 percent increase in private investment in computers and software.

However, the industry has not experienced growth across the board. "Industry revenue declined during the recession when corporate profits and per capita disposable income fell, causing private investment in computers and software to decline," said IBISWorld industry analyst Kevin Culbert.

Luckily for industry operators, improvements in per capita disposable income and corporate profit are expected to drive industry growth in 2012 as individuals and companies spend more on products that incorporate voice recognition technology. The software developers in this industry license products to companies that produce mobile and consumer devices, including cell phones and global positioning systems. The contracts are often based on a per subscriber or volume base. Consequently, an increasing number of connected devices ultimately boost industry revenue. In 2012, the industry will benefit from a 28.8 percent increase in the number of mobile Internet connections.

In addition to a rising number of mobile Internet connections, industry revenue has been boosted by a growing number of healthcare providers that have adopted electronic health records (EHRs). The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, enacted in February 2009, gives tax incentives for healthcare providers that adopt EHRs. This factor, coupled with a growing number of physician visits, has caused demand from the healthcare sector to rise over the past five years.

In the five years to 2017, IBISWorld estimates industry revenue will increase. According to Culbert, industry operators will continue to benefit from increased investment in computers and software, rising demand in downstream markets, and a growing number of devices that incorporate voice recognition technology. In spite of this factor, the industry is expected to experience more competition from open-source software providers. Although this factor will limit profit margin growth, recent industry consolidation will ultimately mitigate this effect. In the five years to 2012, the number of firms operating in this industry has declined at an annualized rate of 4.6 percent to 34.

Market share concentration within the industry is moderate. The four largest players account for more than half of all industry revenue. The two largest players, Nuance Communications and M*Modal, have rapidly expanded their share of the market during the past five years. Nuance has grown by an average of 18.2 percent per year as a result of its aggressive acquisition streak. The company has purchased eight other players to enhance its product offerings and reach new markets. Meanwhile, M*Modal has increased its U.S. industry-specific revenue at an average annual rate of 5.3 percent due to its own high level of acquisitions. As such, these players have outpaced industry growth and captured an increasing share of the market.

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