Nuance acquires Swype for $102.5M

Faith Merino · October 7, 2011 · Short URL:

The deal could bring Swype's patented swipe-texting solution to iPhones

Texting on a touchscreen is quite the pain in the ass for the fat-fingered and the uncoordinated, which is why texting solutions like the one offered by Swype are such a God send.  And it looks like Nuance has taken notice: the company has acquired Swype for $102.5 million, with $77.5 million paid up front and the remaining $25 million to be paid on the 18 month anniversary of the acquisition.

This according to a just-released SEC filing.  

A Nuance spokesperson confirmed the acquisition with VatorNews this morning, saying: "At this point I do not have much to add other than noting that both companies are excited about the acquisition and what it means for innovations between our experienced teams and the solutions we can bring to mobile OEMs and consumers.  We will share additional information as we advance these efforts and serve our customers."

Founded in 2002, Swype’s solution gives the fat-fingered a reason to text again by allowing those with touchscreen phones to swipe their finger across the keypad to text instead of tapping the letters.  You simply press down at the first letter, trace your finger or stylus through the letters of the rest of the word, and lift off at the last letter, and poof, your word is born.

Currently, the solution is only available for Android devices, but as Nuance is in partnership with Apple (rumored to be on its way to an acquisition), the deal could mean that Swype’s patented technology could be headed for an iPhone near you.

The acquisition comes on the heels of Swype’s $6 million Series C round in July, which saw participation from Ignition Partners, Samsung Ventures, Nokia Growth Partners,  Benaroya Capital, and DoCoMo Capital.  Interestingly, Swype was co-founded by Cliff Kushler, who also co-founded another predictive text input solution, T9, which was also acquired by Nuance back in 2007.

Things got interesting in March 2010, when Nuance revealed T9 Trace, a swipe-texting solution that mirrors the Swype solution.  It seems inevitable that Nuance will have to trash one of them—but which one?  Did it purchase Swype just to get rid of a competitor?

Nuance has been on a spending spree this year.  The acquisition of Swype marks its fifth deal in as many months, following the acquisition of Loquendo in August, Webmedx in July, SVOX in June, and Equitrac in May for $157 million.

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