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Voice firms' merger may benefit SMEs

Arif Mohamed
ScanSoft and Nuance, two leading suppliers in the speech technology industry, will next month complete a merger, with the combined firm promising to work towards a merged platform.

The companies currently offer speech recognition and text-to-speech products and services to the likes of Vodafone, Wal-Mart, FedEx, Shell, ING and Sony.

ScanSoft, which was spun out of Xerox, had in recent years acquired call centre voice company Phonetics; text-to-speech expert Rhetorical; and ART Advanced Recognition Technologies, an embedded speech supplier.

Elizabeth Herrell, vice-president at Forester Research, said the merger could "infuse speech into new areas of business and deliver more cost-effective solutions to smaller and mid-sized organisations."

She added, "Speech technology continues to evolve and the future combined platform will hopefully contain what is best-of-breed for both vendors.

"Although the new company will combine product lines, this should not hold back buyers for speech solutions today."

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