Microsoft has announced today that it is acquiring Nuance Communications, the company that originally built Siri’s backend. With the $19.7 billion deal, Microsoft is looking to advance its AI and cloud capabilities in the healthcare industry – what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella calls “the most urgent application.”

After creating the backend for Siri, rumors about Apple replacing Nuance’s tech with its own started around 2013. In 2014, details started surfacing about Apple hiring Nuance engineers as it worked to bring Siri in-house. And beyond Siri, Apple has also used Nuance tech in the past for speech recognition and speech-to-text features on the Mac.

In a press release today, Microsoft announced what could be one of the biggest tech acquisitions of the year.

Microsoft will acquire Nuance for $56.00 per share, implying a 23% premium to the closing price of Nuance on Friday, April 9, in an all-cash transaction valued at $19.7 billion, inclusive of Nuance’s net debt. Nuance is a trusted cloud and AI software leader representing decades of accumulated healthcare and enterprise AI experience.

In a tweet, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the most important aspect of tech right now is AI and that healthcare is the “most urgent application.”

The acquisition of Nuance comes after Microsoft partnered with the company back in 2019 to augment its Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare.

Notably, while Apple is for now taking a bit of a different approach to improving health and healthcare than Microsoft, CEO Tim Cook has said multiple times that Apple’s “greatest contribution” to mankind will be health-related.

Along with Apple Watch being heavily health-focused, its new Apple Fitness+ service, and more, Apple also has its Health Records integration up and running with over 500 health systems in the US, UK, and Canada.

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