Speech-recognition software Nuance acquires Jott Networks
Speech-recognition software vendor Nuance Communications announced that it has acquired mobile voice-to-text services provider Jott Networks, according to the company
Burlington, Mass.-based Nuance intends to integrate its software into about one billion mobile phones this year, and Jott Founders John Pollard and Shree Madhavapeddi found this to be an attractive reason to sell the business. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The two founders wrote in their blog that Nuance had an expansive vision for what the companies could do together, “both in terms of reaching many millions of customers, but also in terms of innovation that was still to come.”
Seattle-based Jott converts spoken messages into text and delivers them as e-mail, text messages or updates to Web pages. Its founders are both former Microsoft Windows Mobile managers.
Nuance Communications uses speech and imaging technology to automate and replace manual processes used in the office. Services include text-to-speech conversion, speech recognition, voice command and telephone routing, navigation systems and reproduction of documents.
Senior Director of Marketing for Jott
provides the company is a complement to some of the B-to-B activity that Nuance has been engaging in with the mobile space.
“Jott has a pretty innovative portfolio of mobile services that are driven by voice that in many ways, don’t compete with what we do, but do complement it,” he said. “We saw their ability and what they’ve done in terms of building brand awareness virally and socially, and building a strong direct-to-consumer base and offerings.”
Nuance was really impressed by Jott and the company’s ability to reach its core consumer. Jott showed Nuance that the company completely understood how to relate to its consumer in the “complex world of speech,” Woods said.
“With us being more or less the leader in speech across verticals, we saw Jott as a fantastic potential partner,” he said. “We’re going to keep them as Jott under the Nuance umbrella, but what it does is open up a lot of doors in terms of growth and extension since Nuance, in the mobile space, is a player with pretty much every mobile carrier and manufacturer.”
Woods said that the scale that Nuance can provide for Jott and for its consumers is expansive, and added that Jott also opens a lot of doors on the enterprise side because the company has existing relationships with Salesforce and other CRM companies where speech and voice recognition makes a lot of sense.
“A lot of things (Jott) has been doing will likely continue; certainly products will continue in their current stages and be supported as they were as a stand alone company,” Woods said. “As far as marketing initiatives go, the acquisition just closed, so I can’t speak in great detail about different or new things we may do, but certainly the things that have been done will continue.”
With Nuance’s extensive national presence, Woods said that it is likely that Jott will be integrated into one of the company’s facilities in Seattle or may work with the company’s Sunnyvale, Calif.-based business unit. He added that Nuance has a flourishing presence in Seattle already, so the transition will be smooth.
“In the mobile space, we do a minimum amount of direct-to-consumer advertising,” Woods said. “The traditional print and radio spots were largely for our Dragon Naturally Speaking product and PDF converter product, which are box solutions you can find at Staples and Best Buy.”
Our source indicated that 90 percent of Nuance’s mobile division’s revenue comes from solely B-to-B activities with mobile manufacturers and carriers like T-mobile and Verizon, and said that the mobile segment offers just a handful of products that directly target consumers, but that those are more services-oriented.
“We have a bit of experience in (consumer marketing), but one of the main reasons that Jott was attractive from a marketing perspective is that they get how to promote themselves to consumers in the Web 2.0 gauge we’re in, but they have also built and managed relationships via Twitter, Facebook and even their own blog is very active,” he said.
Consumers should expect to see a continuation of what the Jott brand has done for itself already. Woods said that Nuance has a few other solutions that it’ll be rolling out that are a bit more B-to-C focused in the near future that are mobile software applications designed to facilitate tasks on the mobile device.
Our source confirmed that Newburyport, Mass.-based Aloft Group, Inc. is still handling creative efforts for Nuance, and that Irvine, Calif.-based Global Results is handling its public relations efforts.
Woods said that the mobile segment of Nuance is getting a lot done on its own as far as design and creative elements are concerned, and said that the company’s in-house personnel have maintained and handled Nuance’s current Web 2.0 outreach, which includes Facebook activity and Twitter updates.
“We don’t really have right now a relationship with an agency to help us,” he said. “I don’t know off-hand if Jott has utilized an agency and will continue to do so, but it’s always interesting to know who’s out there and what they might be able to do help us. I get solicited a lot – a lot of it is interesting, a lot is not, but in some cases you wouldn’t be introduced to a company unless they give you a call. It’s something that I can’t say we’re aggressively or actively looking for, but certainly open to discussing different ideas and options.”
Specifically, Woods said he would not be interested in hearing from lead generation firms, but said that he would be very interested in hearing from small production companies that could assist with producing a video, or perhaps from someone who can help the in-house design team with putting together a demonstration – and not necessarily a flash demo, but rather some type of interactive demonstration that would highlight some of Nuance’s products in a way that connects with people.
Nuance spent about $3.3 million on national advertising in 2008. About $1.8 million was spent on national magazine ads, $1.3 million was spent on Internet ads and about $300,000 was spent on spot radio ads.
Agencies that meet Woods’ qualifications should reach out immediately to discuss how your firm can assist Nuance as it attempts to leverage Jott’s ability to create relationships with individual consumers and develop more B-to-C outreach for the future.
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Senior Director, Marketing, Mobile Division
Senior Vice President & General Manager, Nuance Mobile