According to a study by GlobalData, from 2016 to 2020, Apple acquired the most AI companies, edging out Accenture, Google, Microsoft and Facebook, all of which also made significant AI acquisitions.
Around a hundred companies acquired over the past six years
At Apple’s shareholders meeting in February, Apple CEO Tim Cook said thatApple had acquired nearly 100 companies in the last six years. The company emphasized that the focus is on small innovative companies which complement its products and contribute to their development.
Apple does not make all of its acquisitions public. It is therefore possible that the acquisition of other AI companies by Apple has been overlooked. Emotient, Turi, Glimpse, RealFace, Shazam, SensoMotoric, Silk Labs, Drive.ai, Laserlike, SpectralEdge, Voysis, XNOR.ai are some of Apple’s acquisitions in recent years. The idea is toimprove the AI and machine learning capabilities of its products and services.
A frenzy of acquisitions in the face of all-out competition
According to GlobalData, growing competition in the AI space has led to a frenzy of acquisitions. Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook have collectively undertaken 60 acquisitions in the AI technology space during the period 2016 – 2020, whileApple led the race with 25 acquisitions. AI has remained a key area of interest for tech giants, and the growing competition to dominate the space has resulted in an acquisition frenzy among these companies.
Many of Apple’s acquisitions were aimed at improve Siri. Apple bought Inductiv to improve Siri data, while Voysis helped improve Siri’s understanding of natural language. PullString, on the other hand, makes it easier for iOS developers to use Siri features in apps.
Catch up with competitors, stay ahead and innovate
Apple has embarked on a shopping spree to catch up with google (Google Assistant) and Amazon (Alexa). Siri was the first to hit the market, but it consistently ranks behind the two competing smart speakers. The apple company wants to make up for this delay.
Apple also wants maintain its dominant position in the field of portable devices, in the smart watch segment for example. The acquisition of Xnor.ai last year was also intended to improve its advanced processing capabilities which eliminates the need to send data to the cloud, thereby improving data privacy.
Other acquisitions are aimed at future products. The purchase of Drive.ai for example, a standalone startup that Apple bought in 2019, is likely aimed at advance its autonomous car development project. With all these acquisitions, Apple has also become a real source of employment and has experienced a wave of recruitment of talent in AI with nearly 14,000 jobs in 2020.