Showing 15 years of acquisitions by Apple, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, and Facebook, the chart lays out in visual terms when tech giants were at their purchasing busiest, as well as how much they typically spend on deals — with the size of individual dots representing the price paid for each startup.
Having recently purchased both Nest and AI startup DeepMind, Google is currently on a high tech spending spree. Even Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson has claimed that the search giant’s recent acquisitions have helped it take the lead over Apple when it comes to innovation in 2014.
But Apple is also putting its $159 billion worth of cash and investments to good use by carrying out its fair share of acquisitions.
Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California (image taken by Benjamin Feenstra)
It was widely reported in January that Apple was in talks to buy Waze, an Israeli startup with a hugely popular maps app. Waze was rumored to be asking Apple for $750 million. The same outlet that broke the acquisition rumor quickly backpedaled and said no such deal was taking place. Google ended up buying Waze in June for $1 billion.
And so goes the buyout game in Silicon Valley, a power play where tech giants like Apple and Google court hot startups with the hopes of adding them to their war chests.
Apple had its biggest year ever for acquisitions in 2013, with a record 15 smaller companies joining the fold. A dozen of them have now been publicly disclosed.
For an entity as secretive as Apple, examining the companies it buys is one of the only ways to peek into its future plans. When AuthenTec, a company that specialized in fingerprint readers and identification software, was purchased in July 2012, speculation immediately followed. What did Apple want with fingerprint sensors? The answer ended up being obvious, and the technology debuted in Touch ID in September 2013.
Often the outcome of an Apple acquisition isn’t so immediately apparent.
Historically, Apple acquires far fewer companies than its competitors. But the line is starting to blur. Google publicly bought three times as many companies as Apple in 2012 and not even twice as many in 2013. Apple bought more companies than Microsoft in 2013.
So what does all of this say about Apple’s future?
Although they broke the story, it looks like The Wall Street Journal were wondering the same thing themselves. The result is an excellent breakdown of Apple’s major acquisitions in 2013. Unfortunately, it doesn’t shed much light on why Apple bought Topsy, but it does show Cupertino’s areas of interest.
Apple has purchased AlgoTrim, a Swedish firm specializing in image and video compression techniques, for an unspecified price. It could pave the way to better iOS device battery life, and much improved photo and video quality across Apple line-up of devices.
Continuing its expansion at roughly the same pace as the known universe, Facebook has just announced that they have acquired Mobile Technologies, the developer of Jibbigo, a universal translator app for Android and iOS.
Apple has bought a company which specializes in low-energy chips that are ideally suited for devices like fitness trackers. The rumor mill is saying that Apple is working on an iWatch to release by the end of 2014, and this small acquisition is likely another way to bring in more expertise for the project.
Siri has enjoyed mild success since her debut on the iPhone 4S. She’s not the world’s greatest personal assistant, but she gets the job done most of the time, which is better than a lot of other voice recognition options out there.
Now Amazon is preparing to do battle with Siri thanks to a new digital assistant they just bought. Her name’s IVONA, and we’re pretty sure it’s not the same Ivona from Austin Powers.
Did this patent tip Apple’s intent to buy AuthenTec?
Whenever Apple moves to purchase a company, you know they’ve got something up their sleeves, and it’s not hard to imagine the possibilities of their latest acquisition: maker of fingerprint sensor chips, AuthenTec.