Microsoft has made another move in to the voice communications market with the announcement that they are to buy Tellme Networks, a provider of voice services for ‘everyday life, including nationwide directory assistance, enterprise customer service and voice-enabled mobile search’.
Microsoft and Tellme say they share a vision around the potential of speech as a way to enable access to information, locate other people and enhance business processes, any time and from any device. Combining Tellme’s expertise in high-volume voice services with Microsoft’s platform, resources and worldwide customer reach will inspire new and innovative solutions.
“Speech is universal, simple and holds incredible promise as a key interface for computing,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft. “Tellme brings to Microsoft the talent, technology and proven experience in speech that will enable us to deliver a new wave of products and revolutionize human-computer interaction.”
Tellme is a leader in voice services for the phone, including its popular mobile search services. Founded in 1999, the privately held company answers millions of calls every day for information such as finding local businesses, driving directions, sports scores, stock quotes, weather, news, movie show times and more.
Businesses use Tellme’s voice services and platform to provide customers with voice-access services ranging from banking to package tracking. These services are built on Tellme’s voice platform that analyses caller requests to continually improve the system’s accuracy and overall caller experience.
Potential areas of development resulting from the deal will range from hosted voice-enabled customer service solutions that complement Microsoft’s existing unified communications offerings to voice user interfaces in existing Microsoft products to search services on mobile phones that integrate with Live Search for mobile offerings. In addition, developers and partners will be able to build new speech-based solutions on top of a scalable, standards-based voice-enabled applications platform.
“We’ve made great strides in speech technologies, but have only scratched the surface of what is possible,” said Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division. “The acquisition of Tellme will bolster Microsoft’s existing speech capabilities, bringing both immediate and longer-term value to our customers and partners.”
“Tellme was founded with the idea that anyone should be able to simply say what they want and get it from any device, starting with the phone,” said Mike McCue, co-founder and CEO of Tellme. “Now, with Microsoft, we’ll be able to extend that vision to millions of businesses and consumers around the world.”
This acquisition will mark an important step forward in Microsoft’s strategy for delivering software plus services that put people at the centre of technology solutions in the office, at home and on the go. For more than a decade, Microsoft has enabled speech, handwriting and touch as forms of natural user input, making computing and digital devices easier to use.