It’s strange to imagine that a once-obscure company that specialised in then-nascent voice recognition software, has grown into such a prized acquisition that Microsoft this month paid $19bn for it. You may think you’ve never used Nuance’s technology, but if you’ve ever said "Hey Siri" you’re using Nuance’s voice-recognition technology that Siri is built on. Its Dragon Naturally Speaking products are much better known, and were pioneers in helping people speak to their computers instead of typing.

Nuance has found a fertile niche in health care: half of US physicians and 77% of US hospitals use it. Microsoft wants to combine it into its cloud strategy for the health sector. Nuance’s Healthcare Cloud offering grew 37% year on year at the end of 2020, making it financially attractive too. With the infinite and untapped potential of cloud computing and the rapidly growing field of artificial intelligence, Nuance fits nicely with Microsoft’s much broader cloud computing aspiration...

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