Nuance has acquired eCopy in a move that unites two of the largest players in the MFP capture space. Nuance’s Imaging business also has other interests like OCR and PDF creation, but its PaperPort and Personalized Scanning Platform (PSP) platforms are OEM’d by vendors like Xerox, Ricoh, Konica, EFI and Konica Minolta. In fact, Nuance often disputed eCopy’s claims to market leadership in the MFP capture space. eCopy itself has some powerful alliances with the likes of Canon, Ricoh, and Toshiba that helped it grow to more than $60 million in annual revenue in about a 10-year period.
There are definitely signs however, that the MFP capture space is in transition. One is the fact that the price Nuance paid for eCopy was less than eCopy’s reported revenue for 2007 (and it was all stock). There has definitely been some price pressure as MFP vendors have become more aggressive about bundling scanning software with their hardware. Also, one of eCopy’s largest North American resellers, IKON, was recently acquired by Ricoh – which although it partners with eCopy, does not have the history that Canon does and also offers several alternative capture products.
Couple interesting sidelights of this deal:
1. Does this make Canon, which had like a 20% stake in Nuance, a major stockholder in Nuance – a former Xerox spin-off?
2. This would seem to throw the longstanding relationship between eCopy and Belgian OCR ISV I.R.I.S. into a state of flux. Funny thing is, Nuance has filed suit against eCopy for using I.R.I.S.’ technology, and I.R.I.S. had seemingly come to eCopy’s defense. And, oh yes, Canon just bought a stake in I.R.I.S.
I’m thinking something has to give here. Look for another related acquisition in the next six months.
This acquisition does create easily the largest developer of MFP capture software on the market. Nuance certainly now as a full stable of technology in this area. It will be interesting to see how they bring it all together. NSi and Omtool are currently the other major players with traditional batch capture vendor Kofax still trying to make inroads.