Google, Nuance and gPhone Mobile Platform

Back in March, I posted that

"As we move through 2007, one of the big battles worth watching is the strategic positioning between Nuance, TellMe, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo".

At that time, TellMe was rumored to be readying for an IPO, speculation was high that Google was interested in an acquisition in the space (and in discussions with TellMe) while Nuance was continuing their consolidation of the Speech sector with their own acquisitions.  In the end, Microsoft acquired TellMe.  Leaving open the question around Nuance and Google.

Six months later, we have speculation of the Google gPhone being targeted for 1Q08 launch (and some say earlier), mobile software development being led by the Google Boston team and confirmation that Nuance’s Voice Signal team are under NDA and that Nuance is positioning to be on the gPhone for mobile speech.

From BusinessWeek:

"Word’s getting out. Among the companies jockeying for a place on Google’s platform, has learned, are Plusmo, a Santa Clara (Calif.) company that pulls together blogs and news items and sends them to cell phones, and Nuance Communications (NUAN), a Burlington (Mass.) maker of speech-recognition software used in mobile directory assistance services. Plusmo is owned by Reify Software, and its services are already available on phones made by Motorola (MOT), Research In Motion (RIM), and devices that use the Microsoft (MSFT) mobile operating system. Nuance technology, on devices such as Palm’s (PALM) Treo 755p, lets users dial, dictate, and search using voice commands. Neither company would comment for this story."

Two thoughts come to mind…One tactical and the other more strategic…

1) Multiple sources appear to be aligning on the description of the open mobile platform and application framework for any potential Google gPhone given Om’s summary, companies jockeying for position and the GrandCentral acquisition

    1. mobile variant of Linux running Java virtual machines
    2. all java apps
    3. Mobile OS runs multimedia files including video clips
    4. UI in Java and very responsive with a mobile search box
    5. Speech UI utilzing distributed speech recognition (dsr) for mobile thin client UI
    6. a special browser which has pan-and-browse features a la iPhone and Symbian phones
    7. browser is Java or potentially based on optimized WebKit core (as in Safari and in iPhone)
    8. mobile OS running on 3-to-5 devices, most of them involving HTC (and Orange?)
    9. one phone number, aggregated call control, call screening, call record, click-2-call, alerts
    10. GPS & LBS for audio,local search and mobile AdSense advertising

2) With both Speech (ASR, DSR) and GPS being critical to a Google mobile gPhone platform, who’s on the strategic short list for Google… and who else is chasing the same short list?

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