With $23 billion in the bank, Apple is on a spending spree, a habit some expect will only increase in 2010. The Cupertino, Calif. company has acquired three companies within the past five months, a tactic many tech giants are using to stay abreast of rivals.
Apple, once known only for its Macs, must now compete with Google and Nokia for cell phone market share. “As mobile computing takes shape, Apple, Google, Nokia and other traditional tech titans have become more active in searching for startups that can help them with the new terrain,” BusinessWeek writes.
The company, which traditionally has preferred developing technology in-house, has acquired only 11 companies since CEO Steve Jobs returned to the post in 1997. By comparison, Internet giant Google, which recently entered the mobile phone market with its Nexus One phone and Android mobile operating system, purchased 11 companies in the past year and a half.
Despite its $23 billion “war chest,” Apple had had little experience with mergers and acquisitions, hiring its first M&A specialist in 2009. The hiring of Adrian Perica followed Apple’s loss of mobile advertising firm AdMob in November to Google. The iPhone maker purchased AdMob rival Quattro just months later. The recent purchase by Apple of music-streaming firm Lala indicated “Apple did not want to lose out again, and especially not to Google,” BusinessWeek said.
Charles Charnes, who oversaw the Lala acquisition, has left Apple after being hired away from HP in 2008. Charnes, reportedly was part of Apple’s effort to rebuild its corporate legal arm following an SEC investigation into stock option backdating resulting in charges against Apple’s former general counsel Nancy Heinen.