Apple (AAPL) has become one of the most successful technology companies of all time. Since its founding in 1976, Apple has grown from its earliest incarnation as the maker of personal computers into a major multinational operation with offerings including consumer electronics, online services, and software. The company developed a business philosophy of purchasing small companies that they can easily integrate into their current line of products. As of March 2019, Apple had made 106 different acquisitions, according to Crunchbase.
More than most other companies, Apple has become known for its pioneering leadership team. The company's co-founder, Steve Jobs, has been widely regarded as a visionary in the field of computing. Today, Apple's executive leadership includes CEO Tim Cook, Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams, Senior VP and General Counsel Katherine Adams and Senior VP and Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri.
Apple's Revenue Growth
In its 2018 annual report, Apple reported 2018 net sales of more than $265 billion, up from roughly $229 billion for the previous year. Basic earnings per share for 2018 was just over $12.
Below, we'll explore seven of the most notable acquisitions that Apple has made over the years.
You know when you hear a song at a bar or restaurant but you can't quite remember the name of it? Shazam solves this problem by letting you hold your phone up and the app will identify the song. In December of 2017, Apple announced that it would Shazam, the music identifying app, for $400 million. The acquisition was finalized in September of 2018. Apple already has a music identifying system built within Siri, but Shazam's is much more robust, including the capacity to identify advertising, movies and television shows. No one is quite sure yet what Apple's plans are for the service, but its possible they'll integrate the tech into a future iOS update. In 2017, Shazam reported turnover of about $53.7 million in 2017.
Emagic was one of Apple's most important early acquisitions. In 2002 Apple acquired Emagic for $30 million, and Apple discontinued the company's offerings for Windows shortly thereafter. Headquartered in Germany, the company was known for its music software, Logic Pro. Apple used the acquisition so that it could develop the digital audio workstation software GarageBand, known for its looping melodies and vast levels of customization.
If you own an iPhone you probably know Siri. Siri is an “intelligent personal assistant” that can help make reservations, get directions and perform different actions, such as sending text messages.
Siri was originally developed by SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center in conjunction with Nuance Communications, a company focused on speech technology. Early on, Siri was developed as an individual app to be used for booking reservations at restaurants. It was then sold to Apple in 2010 for an undisclosed amount. Siri debuted as part of iPhone 4S in 2011 and has been a major feature of Apple products ever since. It was more recently incorporated into the new Apple Watch.
4. Beats Electronics
The largest acquisition that Apple has made to date, by a significant margin, was the 2014 purchase of Beats Electronics for roughly $3 billion in cash and stock. 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 their retail stores and also with resellers.
Apple has been aggressive about making Beats a key part of their current brand. Beats was instrumental in the redesign of Apple Music, and Beats has run the Beats 1 internet radio channel which is host to premium programs curated by such celebrities as St. Vincent, Ezra Koenig, and more.
5. NeXT, Inc.
In spite of his eventual massive fame and widespread recognition, Steve Jobs was at one point forced out of Apple, the company that he helped launch. When that happened, he started NeXT in 1985 with a few of his former colleagues.
In 1988 NeXT released the first NeXT computer, designed for higher education and business applications, but from a production standpoint this product never really got off the ground. The company only shipped approximately 50,000 units. Nonetheless, several aspects of the NeXT operating and development systems proved highly influential to the burgeoning computer industry. That may have been part of the reason that Apple purchased NeXT for $429 million in cash and shares of Apple stock in 1997. Given its sizable purchase price, NeXT was Apple's most expensive acquisition for nearly two decades. This acquisition also meant that Steve Jobs would return to the company that he co-founded in 1976.
The merger integrated NeXT software along with Apple’s hardware to form what we know today as OS X and iOS.
6. Anobit Technologies
Founded in 2006, Israeli company Anobit Technologies is a computer hardware designer and manufacturer specializing in flash memory drives. The company rose to prominence in large part because of its production of key flash memory components for the iPhone. Apple purchased Anobit Technologies in January of 2012 for a reported $390 million.
In November 2013 Apple purchased 3D motion sensor company PrimeSense for $345 million. The company was founded in 2005 and based in Israel. PrimeSense is well known for its motion tracking software used in the Microsoft Kinect sensor found in the Xbox 360 gaming system.
It was not immediately clear at the time of acquisition what Apple intended to do with the technology it had gained thanks to the purchase of PrimeSense. Then, in 2014, a new iPad app called itSeez3D was released which allowed users to capture 3D models for use in CAD and 3D printing. Since that time, however, Apple has not yet integrated 3D motion sensing capabilities in its products to the same extent.
As of March of 2019, the most recent Apple acquisitions include two British companies. In December of 2018, Apple bought artist development platform Platoon for an undisclosed sum. Before that, in October of 2018, the tech giant paid a reported $600 million for a partial stake in Dialog Semiconductor, the maker of multiple key components of the iPhone.
A portion of Apple's success can surely be attributed to its ability to stay at the front line of consumer technology. This is thanks to the company's powerful research and development (R&D) branch, but it is also a reflection of Apple's aggressive acquisition strategy. Having acquired more than 100 companies since its founding more than 40 years ago, Apple is likely to continue to buy up companies which it believes could help to strengthen its brand and product offerings into the future.