Voice recognition giant Nuance has acquired Seattle-based startup Swype for $102.5 million, according to a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington broke the news late last night, citing an unnamed source.
The deal makes sense for Nuance, which has gone to great lengths to corner the intellectual property market on input-based technology. Much of the company's IP is used in popular consumer electronics devices, including Google Android-based smartphones and Apple's iPhone.
Nuance is no stranger to the courtroom when it comes to patents. A few years ago, it filed suit against Vlingo for infringement of speech recognition patents; when Nuance last year introduced its "T9 Trace" product that imitated Swype, many thought the resemblance was too close.
Clearly, Nuance thought it better to simply acquire the company, taking all of its existing licensing deals with it.
Swype was co-founded by Cliff Kushler and Randy Marsden. It gained a surprisingly large following on Android phones -- about half of them carry the technology -- and most recently raised $3.5 million earlier this year from existing investors Samsung, Nokia and DoCoMo.
For now, Swype is most popular on smartphones but may come in handy as the tablet market takes off. As we saw with Apple's Siri, handset makers are looking to alternative modes of input as keyboards, mice and other hardware go the way of the dodo. Swype gives Nuance a bulwark against Google as it cooperates and competes with the company.