Swype has been blowing minds since it first launched at TechCrunch 50 back in September of 2008. For those unfamiliar, Swype is the maker of an awesome app that allows users of touchscreen mobile devices to type messages with one swipe of the finger or stylus motion across the screen keyboard. The alternative (and patented) input method has proven to be super speedy, allowing data entry at over 40 words per minute, and has swept across Android devices.
Today, thanks to the reporting of one Michael Arrington via Uncrunched, we’ve learned that Swype has been acquired by Nuance (the makers of voice recognition technology) for over $100 million. The deal was confirmed by the Wall Street Journal, which pegged the numbers to be between $100 and $150 million.
The official announcement is expected to be made tomorrow.
Nuance, which has a market cap of about $6.7 billion, has been on an acquisition roll of late, snatching up speech recognition software company SVOX in June, at the same time announcing the close of its $157 million acquisition of software developer Equitrac.
The speech recognition giant has also been in the news of late, as it is has been in negotiations with Apple over licensing for Lion OSX. What’s more, while Apple did not confirm, MG held that Nuance is also a large part of the technology behind Siri, which will be native on all iPhone 4Ses. As MG wrote yesterday, “even if Apple wanted and tried to come up with their own voice technology backend for Siri, they would have a hard time doing so without infringing on some of Nuance’s patents. Patents which Nuance CEO Paul Ricci is very well known to enforce to their maximum extent”.
What’s more, it will be interesting to see how Nuance resolves the fact that it now owns both Swype and T9, another predictive text app. And, as Mike wrote, it just so happens that T9 “competes directly with Swype” and was also founded by Cliff Kushler, the very same guy who co-founded Swype. Will the two products join forces, or is T9 headed for the trash heap? I’m sure Nuance will have more information on that tomorrow, or in the coming weeks.
Swype had raised just under $14 million in outside investment since 2008 and just closed its series C back in July. The acquisition is a big win for the startup, its investors (Samsung Ventures, Nokia Growth Partners, Benaroya Capital, DoCoMo Capital, Ignition Partners, and more), and for Nuance. With Swype’s app appearing on (what will soon be) 100 million devices, and smartphone and touchscreen adoption skyrocketing, these technologies will no doubt be a big part of our mobile future.
Update: The exact amount paid for Swype, according to an SEC filing, is $102.5 million.