TellMe became a part of the Microsoft fold this morning for the sum of $800m (and change). The acquisition is designed to grow voice technology in areas of unified communications, mobile services, as well as the overall Speech platform.
Om Malik has the relevant details for those who are interested in the plumbing of the deal. According to him, Mr. Ballmer was personally driving the deal and TellMe will continue as an independent subsidiary of Microsoft.
Perception of the purchase is that TellMe’s technology will help differentiate Microsoft in the search business, particularly mobile search (actually speaking to your mobile phone—surely you’re joking). Don Dodge points out in his post about the deal that both mobile and local search are very valuable (and relatively open) markets.
While the public perception seems to revolve around Microsoft’s attempts to become more relevant in the search market, Richard Sprague believes the deal is about acquiring TellMe’s data: “It's extremely important in speech to get actual users using your system, because every call and every interaction is new data that will improve quality and accuracy. A significant fraction of the U.S. population has called TellMe, which is an asset that will mean huge improvements to all of our systems.”