California’s Apple Inc. has acquired 10 companies in 2013. The computer and customer electronics giant bought up young startup companies that deal with semiconductors, mapping, indoor location, data compression, twitter analytics and mobile apps. These are the ten companies acquired by Apple Inc this year:
iPhones and iPads make up more than two-thirds of Apple Inc’s sales, making them absolutely vital to the company. The demand for smartphones and tablets has started to slow down in 2013 as the market is becoming saturated. It makes sense that Apple is looking to continue developing its platforms to stay competitive with rivals like Google and Samsung. Three new companies that dealt with specific applications were added to their portfolio this year:
Formerly known as Greplin, Cue was a website and an app that amalgamates online accounts to give a brief run-down of the user’s day. A variety of online accounts are indexed and linked together so that the user can do things like search them all at the same time.
Cue shut down its service when it was acquired by Apple Inc. on Oct. 3, 2013. Apple Insider reported that it was bought for between $35 million and $60 million.
Matcha is a relatively unknown video programming recommendation site and app. It uses a proprietary algorithm to select other things for the user to watch. Before shutting down, Matcha began to amass users because it was working better than other apps that tried to do the same.
The iTunes video store serves hundreds of thousands of TV shows and movies every day, so it makes sense that Apple Inc would take an interest. Tech Crunch reports that they bought Matcha for an estimated $10 to $15 million.
3. Topsy Labs
Topsy is a social media analytics firm which specializes in Twitter. It can tell how often a term is tweeted, find people who are influential on a topic, and measure the exposure level of a campaign. It is made to give marketers and other power-users a set of tools to give them a competitive edge.
Acquired on Dec. 2, 2013, Topsy Labs is the most recent addition to Apple Inc’s portfolio. They paid over $200 million, the Washington Journal reports. It is not clear what Apple wants with Topsy, but analysts speculate that it could be used in the iTunes media store, iAd advertising platform, or the Siri voice assistant.
Data compression is the process of encoding information using fewer bits. In lossless compression, no data is lost, but statistical redundancy is removed to trim down the file size. “Lossy compression” seeks and removes unnecessary information.
Algotrim was a Swedish startup that builds codecs to maximize performance of data, imaging and graphics while saving on memory requirements. Their Code Compression Library, which reduces the size of mobile firmware, has been used on mobile devices since 2006. The company reportedly developed a JPEG processor that could process the images up to six times faster on Androids.
Algotrim’s work with digital imaging could be useful to Apple Inc. as they make improvements to the cameras on mobile devices, as well as improving their operating efficiency and making them more power efficient. Apple Inc. acquired the company on Aug. 28, 2013 for an undisclosed amount.
Maps are a crucial part of mobile technology and Apple Inc. is being forced to compete head-on with Google Maps. Apple is trying to improve their mapping app, the less accurate product for which Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized. Apple has acquired Placebase in 2009 and Poly9 in 2010. In 2013, three more map developers were snatched up.
Locationary is a startup from Toronto that organizes data on local businesses with its product, Saturn. Saturn is a crowd-sourced location data tool meant for local businesses. It helps companies maintain their local business profiles by integrating and converting data sources into a single format, helping with searches and showing daily deals. Apple Inc. acquired Locationary on July 19, 2013 for an undisclosed amount.
Hotstop.com is a city transit guide that gives subway and bus directions for 140 cities, mostly in the U.S. and Canada. It is available on the website and on apps for iPad and iPhone, but not for Android. Google Maps already provides this function so Apple is trying to keep up. It acquired HotStop on July 19, 2013 for an undisclosed amount.
A few weeks later Apple Inc. bought another map company, acquiring Embark on Aug. 22 for an undisclosed sum. Embark is a Silicon Valley upstart that also develops free apps for navigating public transit. Reports indicate that Embark is going to be integrated directly into Apple Maps.
An indoor positioning system is a network of devices which operate in tandem to locate objects or people in a large building or complex of buildings. Because of signal attenuation caused by solid materials, GPS has not been very useful for tracking motion indoors.
WiFiSlam is a startup that has been around for about two years. The company specializes in developing ways for mobile apps to detect the user’s location in a building using WiFi signals. It may have uses in shopping centers, airports, and sports venues, among other places. Apple bought WifiSlam on March 23, 2013 for somewhere around $20 million.
Apple Inc. previously acquired two semiconductor companies, P. A. Semi and Intrinsity, in 2008 and 2010, respectively. Semiconductors are the foundation for the electronics we use every day.
9. Passif Semiconductor
Passif Semiconductor is a wireless chip developer based out of Silicon Valley. The company focuses on low-power communication chips with small footprints. Apple Inc. purchased them on Aug. 1, 2013 for an undisclosed sum.
PrimeSense is an Israel-based semiconductor company that specializes in 3D sensor technology. The company is best known for owning the licence for the technology for the Microsoft Kinect motion-sensing device for the Xbox 360. Apple probably hopes to use similar sensing capabilities in mobile devices. PrimeSense was acquired by Apple Inc. on Nov. 24, 2013 for a whopping $345 million.
In the world of business and consumer technology, Google versus Apple is looking to be the battle of the decade. Both companies have vast interconnected properties that include hardware, software, multimedia and social media. Apple Inc. is trying to defend its share of the market, especially with its iPhones and iPads, which have dominated for years. Google too has been busy scooping up companies, including some that deal in cloud computing, neural networks, natural language processing, computer vision and robotics.
Like a whale feasting on bits of plankton, a stable diet of smaller companies is essential to Apple Inc. and other giants.
By K. Elsner