Apple Inc. (AAPL), one the world’s largest companies, has a market value of $2.4 trillion and in fiscal year 2020 posted net sales of $274.5 billion. Since its founding in 1976, the technology giant has grown into a diversified technology giant that sells devices such as iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers, as well as software and streaming services such as video games and Apple TV+. When it comes to acquisitions, Apple’s strategy has been to purchase small tech companies that it can easily integrate into its expanding line of products.
In 2020, Apple made a higher-than-usual number of acquisitions later in the year, including the popular weather app Dark Sky. In May 2020, the company also spent an estimated $100 million to purchase virtual reality streaming service NextVR.
The year 2021 has been marked by legal trouble that threatens the company’s apps ecosystem. Apple’s apps help drive the company’s services business, which generates $60 billion a year in revenue. Epic Games, maker of the popular video game Fortnite, sued Apple for alleged anticompetitive behavior related to its App Store. There has been no ruling on the case as of July 2021.
Below, we look in more detail at six of Apple’s most important acquisitions. The company does not provide a breakdown of how much profit or revenue each acquisition currently contributes.
Beats Electronics and Beats Music
- Type of business: Audio products
- Acquisition price: $3 billion
- Date purchased: Aug. 1, 2014
Apple’s largest acquisition to date is the $3 billion purchase in cash and stock of audio products maker Beats Electronics and its streaming service, Beats Music. Beats Electronics was founded in 2006 by music producer and rapper Dr. Dre and record executive Jimmy Iovine and released its first headphones in 2008. The acquisition has allowed Apple to sell the Beats line of headphones in its retail stores and with resellers. At the time of the acquisition, Beats was an independent company with minority stakeholders including Dr. Dre, Iovine, and private equity firm Carlyle Group.
Apple used several elements of Beats Music to help build its Apple Music streaming service. Beats Music was shut in 2015, and its subscribers were transferred to Apple. Apple has been aggressive about making Beats Electronics products a key part of the company’s offerings, including its Beats-branded headphones, earphones, and speakers.
- Type of business: Voice-activated personal assistant technology
- Acquisition price: Estimated at more than $200 million
- Date purchased: April 28, 2010
SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center originally developed Siri in conjunction with Nuance Communications, a company focused on speech technology. SRI International spun off Siri as an independent company in 2008. Early on, Siri was developed as an individual app to be used for everyday tasks like booking reservations at restaurants, getting weather reports, or buying tickets to a sports event. Apple integrated the voice-activated technology into its early iPhone models. Siri technology is now used on many Apple products, including the iPhone, Apple Watch, Mac PCs, and Apple TV. Siri reflects Apple’s strategy of acquiring a tech company for a specific technology, then integrating that technology into its existing products.
- Type of business: Music identifier app
- Acquisition price: Estimated at $400 million
- Date purchased: Sept. 24, 2018
Founded as Shazam Entertainment Limited in 1999, Shazam is the company behind the namesake music identifier app. Apple completed its purchase of Shazam in 2018 for an estimated $400 million, with the goal of integrating the technology into iPhones and other smart devices.
Although Apple already had a music identifying system built into Siri, Shazam’s was regarded as more robust. The company announced that it would remove advertisements from all tiers of Shazam service, relying instead on revenue generated from song purchases made through the app.
- Type of business: Hardware and software developer
- Acquisition price: $400 million
- Date purchased: Dec. 20, 1996
Founded in 1985 by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs during a period in which he had been forced out of Apple, NeXT developed hardware and software platforms. The company was perhaps best known for its NeXT computer, built for higher education and business use.
Apple announced the agreement to acquire NeXT in December 1996, which was followed by Jobs’ return to the company as CEO. For roughly two decades, NeXT remained the most expensive acquisition for Apple, but its technology played a key role in the development of Apple products.
- Type of business: Computer security and touch control software
- Acquisition price: $356 million
- Date purchased: July 27, 2012
AuthenTec Inc. was founded in 1998 as a spin-off of Harris Corp. (then known as Harris Semiconductor). At the time of its acquisition by Apple in 2012, AuthenTec held roughly 200 patents in a multitude of computer and technology security applications and products. One of those turned out to be the most useful to Apple, and the one that the tech giant would integrate into a huge array of its devices: its biometric security tool.
That tool would later become Apple’s Touch ID. This technology now enables users to unlock iPhones and other devices with the touch of a finger. As with many other Apple acquisitions, AuthenTec’s products have been integrated in Apple’s existing offerings as added features.
- Type of business: Payment services and software
- Acquisition price: Roughly $100 million
- Date purchased: July 2020
Mobeewave was founded in 2011 in Montreal. The software company developed a system utilizing near-field communication (NFC) technology to allow users to tap either a smartphone or a credit card to another smartphone to process a payment.
Apple’s acquisition price of about $100 million is relatively small compared with some of its major acquisitions. But Mobeewave’s technology could play an outsize role in future Apple financial products. In 2019, Apple already launched its own credit card, the Apple Card. And Mobeewave could place Apple more in direct competition with payment services companies like Square Inc. (SQ).
Apple Diversity & Inclusiveness Transparency
As part of our effort to improve the awareness of the importance of diversity in companies, we have highlighted the transparency of Apple’s commitment to diversity, inclusiveness, and social responsibility. The below chart illustrates how Apple reports the diversity of its management and workforce. This shows if Apple discloses data about the diversity of its board of directors, C-Suite, general management, and employees overall across a variety of markers. We have indicated that transparency with a ✔.
|Apple Diversity & Inclusiveness Reporting|
|Race||Gender||Ability||Veteran Status||Sexual Orientation|
|Board of Directors|
|General Management||✔ (U.S. Only)||✔|
|Employees||✔ (U.S. Only)||✔|
Apple. “Annual Report for the Fiscal Year Ended September 26, 2020,” Page 19. Accessed July 7, 2021.
Apple. “Apple Site Map.” Accessed May 6, 2020.
CNBC. “Apple Buys Virtual Reality Company NextVR.” Accessed July 7, 2021.
The Wall Street Journal. “Apple’s Big Show May Not Be Enough.” Accessed July 8, 2021.
Apple. “Apple to Acquire Beats Music & Beats Electronics.” Accessed May 6, 2020.
CNET. “Apple Closes $3B Beats Deal, Welcomes the Company ‘to the Family’.” Accessed May 7, 2020.
Beats by Dr. Dre. “PEOPLE AREN’T HEARING ALL THE MUSIC.” Accessed May 7, 2020.
The Wall Street Journal. “Apple’s Beats Deal Is Music to Carlyle’s Ears.” Accessed May 6, 2020.
Fortune. “Apple Is Shutting Down Beats Music, Just Like Most Companies It Buys.” Accessed May 7, 2020.
TechCrunch. “Silicon Valley Buzz: Apple Paid More Than $200 Million For Siri To Get Into Mobile Search.” Accessed May 7, 2020.
The Wall Street Journal. “Apple Moves Deeper Into Voice-Activated Search With Siri Buy.” Accessed May 6, 2020.
CNN. “Apple’s Siri Voice Assistant Based on Extensive Research.” Accessed May 7, 2020.
Harvard Business Review. “The President of SRI Ventures on Bringing Siri to Life.” Accessed May 7, 2020.
Vox/Recode. “Apple Has Bought Shazam, the Music Recognition App.” Accessed May 7, 2020.
Apple. “Apple Acquires Shazam, Offering More Ways to Discover and Enjoy Music.” Accessed May 7, 2020.
TechCrunch. “Apple Closes Its $400M Shazam Acquisition and Says the Music Recognition App Will Soon Become Ad Free.” Accessed May 6, 2020.
NeXT Computers. “Apple Computer, Inc. Agrees to Acquire NeXT Software Inc.,” Page 1. Accessed May 7, 2020.
Apple. “Apple Computer, Inc. Agrees to Acquire NeXT Software Inc.” Accessed May 6, 2020.
Reuters. “Apple Buys Mobile Security Firm AuthenTec for $356 Million.” Accessed May 7, 2020.
Cult of Mac. “Today in Apple History: Apple Acquires the Company Behind Touch ID.” Accessed May 7, 2020.
The Verge. “Apple Buys Patent-Rich Security Firm Authentec for $356 Million.” Accessed May 6, 2020.
Bloomberg. “Apple Buys Startup to Turn iPhones Into Payment Terminals.” Accessed July 7, 2021.
Crunchbase. “Mobeewave.” Accessed July 7, 2021.
The Verge. “Apple Reportedly Acquires Startup That Could Turn iPhones into Payment Terminals.” Accessed July 7, 2021.