Apple has acquired about 100 companies over the last six years, the company’s chief executive Tim Cook has revealed. That works out at a company every three to four weeks, he told Apple’s annual meeting of shareholders on Tuesday.
Apple recently delivered its largest quarter by revenue of all time, bringing in $111.4bn (£78.7bn) in the first-quarter of its fiscal year 2021. Mr Cook told the shareholders meeting that the acquisitions are mostly aimed at acquiring technology and talent. Apple’s largest acquisition in the last decade was its $3bn purchase of Beats Electronics, the headphone maker founded by rapper and producer Dr Dre. Another high profile purchase was music recognition software company Shazam, for $400m in 2018.
Most often, Apple buys smaller technology firms and then incorporates their innovations into its own products, one example is PrimeSense, an Israeli 3D sensing company whose technology contributed to Apple’s FaceID. Apple has also invested in back-end technology that wouldn’t be so obvious to iPhone or Macbook users. Apple’s list of acquisitions and investments is extremely varied. In the past year, Apple has bought several artificial intelligence (AI) companies, a virtual reality events business, a payments startup and a podcast business, among others. In 2019, Apple bought Drive.ai, a self-driving shuttle firm, in an effort to boost its own foray into self-driving technologies. In 2016, the company also took a $1bn stake in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing, although it wasn’t a controlling interest. Apple is an immensely profitable juggernaut worth more than $2trn, so it has plenty of money to make acquisitions, but even if it has bought 100 companies in six years, Apple appears to be very selective about what it buys.
For example, Tesla founder Elon Musk recently revealed that he approached Mr Cook to buy the electric car business when it was struggling in 2013, Mr Cook didn’t take the meeting, Mr Musk said. Measured by value, Apple’s acquisitions are actually far more restrained than those of many of its tech rivals. Microsoft paid $26bn for LinkedIn, Amazon paid $13.7bn for Whole Foods and Facebook paid $19bn for WhatsApp. Apple’s ten largest purchases put together would still be worth far less than any of those deals.