Microsoft's buying Nuance, the AI company behind Siri, for $19.7 billion

How to set up 'Hey Siri' on iPhone or iPad
How to set up 'Hey Siri' on iPhone or iPad (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft has confirmed it is buying AI outfit Nuance.
  • Nuance played a large role in helping build Siri.

Microsoft today confirmed that it is paying $19.7 billion to take control of Nuance, the AI company that had a major role to play in creating Siri.

The move, Microsoft says, will help it accelerate its cloud strategy in relation to healthcare and AI initiatives.

Nuance provides the AI layer at the healthcare point of delivery and is a pioneer in the real-world application of enterprise AI. AI is technology's most important priority, and healthcare is its most urgent application. Together, with our partner ecosystem, we will put advanced AI solutions into the hands of professionals everywhere to drive better decision-making and create more meaningful connections, as we accelerate growth of Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare and Nuance.

The deal means that Nuance is valued at around $56 per share with CNBC reporting that Microsoft first made a move to pick up Nuance back in December of last year.

Other than its work on helping build Siri, Nuance is probably best known for its Dragon speech-recognition software, although its moves into health-related AI are what has caused Microsoft to get involved. The pair have been working together since 2019, Microsoft's statement points out.

Microsoft's acquisition of Nuance builds upon the successful existing partnership between the companies that was announced in 2019. By augmenting the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare with Nuance's solutions, as well as the benefit of Nuance's expertise and relationships with EHR systems providers, Microsoft will be better able to empower healthcare providers through the power of ambient clinical intelligence and other Microsoft cloud services.

Despite the work done by Nuance, Siri still isn't quite able to compete with the biggest and best in the smart speaker market. In fact, the best smart speaker available right now features Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, with Siri left out in the cold.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.