Apple has been busy over the past 18 months.
During that time, the company has quietly purchased more than 20 small companies. Unlike its fellow tech giants, which have bought high-profile businesses, Apple has taken a completely different tack in its business plan. Each acquisition has been made to fill a gap in a product that either already exists in Apple’s offerings or is in development.
The company has gradually increased its spending on these companies, too. In the past quarter, Apple spent $525 million on acquisitions; this figure was nearly double the amount the company spent during the same period 12 months ago. Given that Apple has a cash reserve of close to $100 billion, these deals may be considered relatively small.
PrimeSense acquired. The company’s biggest acquisition last year was PrimeSense, a company that employs about 150 people. Apple bought it for $300-$350 million, according to reports. PrimeSense developed sensors that helped Microsoft let Xbox owners control games using body movements. Some analysts said that Apple would eventually bring this type of technology to a television set.
Apple also bought Matcha.tv, a service that recommends things to watch on television. It is a sign of the company’s strong interest in the living room.
Buying smaller companies, plenty of funds. Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has gone on the record in the past to say that Apple would have no problem putting up billions if it would help the company make more high-quality products. Buying smaller companies is not without risks, though. They tend to become less nimble because they are tied to the legacy technologies of the larger corporation, and they are no longer free to innovate as quickly to keep up with competitors.
When Apple decides to buy a startup that has more than just a couple of people working for it, it is usually looking for people who have a specific skill set who can work well together as a team. The people are then reassigned to new projects or paired with older teams within the company.
Its choices are well thought out and each one leads to a next step for Apple. The company does what it thinks is right and goes down that path.
Peter Koeppel is president of Koeppel Direct, a full-service media buying agency based in Dallas. He can be reached at 972-732-6110 or online at [email protected], twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.