The European Commission has ruled that no competition or monopoly concerns would be raised by Microsoft’s $19.7 billion acquisition of voice tech mainstay Nuance. This ruling cleared a potential hurdle for the deal after Microsoft announced the agreement in April 2021. The purchase will now go through without any conditions from the European Union.
“The Commission concluded that Nuance can use this data only to provide its services. It is not used by any other company and cannot be used for any other purpose due to contractual restrictions and data protection legislation,” The Commission wrote. “Also, access to such data does not provide an advantage that would allow Microsoft to shut out competing healthcare software providers given that important transcribed information is typically stored in third-party applications like electronic health record systems that combine data from several sources, as opposed to Nuance’s fragmented speech data.”
The acquisition follows a long history of partnerships between Microsoft around voice AI and Nuance. Since 2019, the Dragon Medical Virtual Assistant of Nuance has run on the Azure cloud platform. In 2020, Microsoft added virtual check-ups via Nuance to the Teams messaging platform as telemedicine exploded in popularity because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The approval from the EU is critical but the deal still has some challenges ahead of it. For instance, the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority investigation has just started and approval is required before it can operate in the United Kingdom.
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