The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that Nuance is exploring a possible sale to Samsung. In that same report, they mention that activist investor Carl Icahn is Nuance's largest shareholder with a 19% stake. The report further notes that "The presence of an activist can increase the odds of a sale of all or part of the company or a stock buyback." Is it in Icahn's interest to start such a rumor hoping it'll push Apple into a battle for Nuance with Samsung? I would think so.
It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. Samsung would love to own some of the technology that's behind Siri. They would love to put the screws to Apple and maybe even use is it as a bargaining chip to end their patent battle with them. .
On the other hand, Apple has had a dedicated and active Siri team in Boston for about a year now. It's run by two former VoiceSignal executives that actually brought a Siri-like service to the iPhone first before being acquired by Nuance.
Apple also has a series of Siri patents (one, two and three) that are really the heart of Siri. Apple supposedly uses Nuance for interpreting a user's voice and not for the artificial intelligent layers that were designed and patented by Apple.
In the end we have to wonder if Nuance is really exploring a sale of the company or if an "interested party" is hoping to start a bidding war between two bitter rivals: Apple and Samsung. However you look at it, one thing is for sure: using the Wall Street Journal as its megaphone is a sure fire way to get the message through to all key interested parties that Nuance may now be up for grabs. Only time will tell if any serious buyer steps forward.