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The Biggest Takeover Since 49 B.C.

As I mentioned last Saturday, if you’re looking to double your money on tech stocks in 2014, buying Apple (AAPL) isn’t going to do it for you.

Instead, you need to focus your attention on the smaller niche companies that Apple wants to acquire. Companies like:

  • IM-Sense: This small company has helped Apple pack more HDR (high dynamic range) imaging into your iPhone’s camera.
  • Quattro Wireless: Apple acquired this visionary firm to transform its mobile marketing with iAd.
  • AuthenTec: Long before the mainstream media were talking about a biometric iPhone, Chief Investment Strategist, Louis Basenese, identified this hidden gem as an Apple takeover target back in 2011. Why? Because AuthenTec had the best biometric technology. In July 2012, Apple did, indeed, buy AuthenTec – and the rest is history.

Well, there’s another company just like the ones above.

It’s a firm with which Apple already shares a long relationship – but hasn’t pulled the trigger on a buyout deal yet.

Here’s why that’s about to change in a deal that rivals Caesar’s takeover of Rome in 49 B.C…

A New Meaning to the Term “Assisted Living”

Forget humans… we’re now living in a world of artificially intelligent personal assistants. Digital “software secretaries” that can manage your contacts, book your lunches, and arrange your transportation.

Unlike humans, though, they fit nicely in your pocket, so you can take them anywhere and give them tasks via voice commands.

I have my assistant with me now. She goes by the name of Siri.

Say “hello,” Siri…

Oh, come on… just a quick shout-out?

Ugh… thanks for making me look bad!

And there’s the problem. While the idea is neat, it often doesn’t work too well. Particularly in Apple’s case.

Sure, Siri can understand commands like, “Please reschedule tomorrow’s meeting from 4 PM to 3 PM,” but the truth is, Siri feels more like a demo than a really useful assistant.

Yet when most people think about voice recognition and mobile assistants, the first platform that comes to mind is Siri. So it’s hard to imagine Apple lagging behind in a marketplace that it helped define.

But it is. And frankly, Google’s (GOOG) “Now” service and Microsoft’s (MSFT) “Cortana” are well ahead of Siri.

That’s because both companies are using next-generation assistant software called “predictive intelligence.”

The Technology That Gets Inside Your Head

Simply put, predictive intelligence exploits a smartphone’s access to your personal information, such as your address book, e-mail and calendar, as well as the internet, location and data services. If it’s in your phone, your assistant has access too.

The aim is to have virtual personal assistants anticipate what information you need before you ask for it. For example, your assistant might…

  • Spontaneously suggest you leave early for a meeting because it’s spotted heavy traffic en route…
  • Give directions to your hotel as soon as your plane lands…
  • Offer to book you a taxi or hotel based on your emails or text messages…
  • Suggest restaurants before making a reservation or placing order for you…

Well, one company not only has the predictive part down, it also provides seamless, cross-platform integration. So if you interact with your assistant on your mobile device, you can pick up where you left off when you use your computer.

That company is Nuance Communications (NUAN).

Toss Out Your Remote

As I said, Apple already shares a long relationship with Nuance. After all, Nuance licensed Siri to Apple in the first place.

However, with Apple CEO, Tim Cook, recently confirming that the company has “new product categories” planned for 2014, there are compelling reasons why Apple should strongly consider buying Nuance outright. (And you should, too!)

One of them is Nuance’s “post-Siri” mobile assistant software, Wintermute.

With Apple set to blaze new trails in home entertainment (iTV) and wearable technology (the iWatch), in order to provide a faultless user experience, it’s working hard on perfecting gesture and voice control for its 2014-2016 product pipeline.

In fact, Apple analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, quoted one of his inside sources, who claims, “The iTV will be fully functional without a remote control.”

Nuance’s advanced voice technology will certainly help Apple’s competitiveness in those areas.

But it’s not the only reason why Apple could have Nuance in its crosshairs. That’s because since it launched the iPad, Apple has quietly set about monopolizing another area…

In Need of An Interface Lift

Did you know that Apple is the leading tablet supplier in the healthcare sector?

According to a Manhattan Research survey on digital usage in healthcare, 72% of physicians today use tablets. And more than 50% favor the iPad.

But buying Nuance could help Apple utterly dominate healthcare. How?

Because Apple would control Nuance’s Dragon speech recognition software, which is widely used by leading electronic health record (EHR) providers, like General Electric (GE), Cerner (CERN), Epic (EPOR), Allscripts Healthcare Solutions (MDRX) and Greenway.

Of those, Cerner has the most notable relationship with Nuance. The company has already integrated Nuance’s speech recognition software across all its EHR platforms. And it strengthened the partnership further in March, with a deal to integrate Nuance’s Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI) into its EHR programs.

All these companies implement a combination of Nuance’s Clinical Language Understanding (CLU) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies. And its speech recognition software is helping physicians track patient data much quicker and more efficiently.

There’s no doubt that Nuance is leading the innovative charge here. And its technological leadership isn’t a one-off fluke.

“Nuance is the hands-down most innovative company in the voice recognition space,” according to our very own Louis Basenese.

Why?

Because Nuance possesses one of the most robust intellectual property portfolios around, with nearly 1,500 U.S. patents and another 348 patent applications.

“These aren’t junk patents, either. The companies that routinely cite them (which merely underscores their value and importance) read like a ‘Who’s-Who’ in the technology sector – Microsoft, AT&T, Google and – yes – none other than Apple,” says Basenese.

For Apple, buying Nuance outright would vault it to the head of the field in the booming healthcare technology area.

In addition, it would ignite Apple’s fortunes in the voice recognition and predictive intelligence fields at a time when it’s preparing to branch into crucial new product areas. Not to mention, it would keep others from having access to Nuance’s cutting-edge intellectual property – just like it did with AuthenTec.

Your eyes in the Pipeline,

Marty Biancuzzo

Marty Biancuzzo

, Technology Analyst

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