One thing that is often forgotten over the course of the year is just how many acquisitions Apple quietly makes. As part of our continuing Year-In-Review coverage of Apple in 2018, read on as we round up all of the acquisitions Apple made during the year – that we know of.
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One thing to note is that Apple itself very rarely confirms acquisitions. Instead, it generally issues a standard comment explaining that it “buys smaller technology companies from time to time” and does not disclose specific purposes or plans. Further, in many cases, details like dollar value and timing of the acquisition are unknown.
On January 2nd, it was reported that Apple had acquired app development service Buddybuild. Buddybuild was a Vancouver-based company that focused on deployment and integration tools for iOS development, including a user feedback platform and more.
Following the acquisition, The Buddybuild team joined the Xcode engineering group at Apple to “build amazing developer tools for the entire iOS community.” The reported goal of the acquisition was to bolster Apple’s Xcode developmental platform.
Silicon Valley Data Science
Bloomberg reported on January 19th that Apple had acquired a team of data scientists from a company called Silicon Valley Data Science. The startup was described as a company focused on providing data analysis to larger companies “to improve their forecasts, operational efficiency, and customer relationships.”
While this was not a full acquisition by Apple, the company did say that it had hired “a few dozen employees” from Silicon Valley Data Science. One of those hires was said to be the CEO of the firm. The Silicon Valley Data Science employees hired by Apple were said to join various “analytics in ad-related initiatives” at the company.
Apple confirmed on March 12th that it had acquired Texture, the popular digital magazine distributor. Commenting on the acquisition at the time, Apple’s Eddy Cue said that Apple is “committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users.”
Texture was one of Apple’s biggest acquisitions of 2018. Since the deal, Texture has lowered its Premium tier pricing to just $10 per month and shuttered its Windows application. Texture is expected to play a big role in Apple’s continued focus on Apple News. Apple is rumored to launch a news subscription service as early as spring 2019, which could be based on the Texture platform.
After a quiet summer in terms of acquisitions, Reuters was first to report on August 29th that Apple had acquired a startup focused on making “lenses for augmented reality glasses” known as Akonia Holographics. Founded in 2012, Akonia Holographics held some 200 patents related to technologies and displays for augmented reality glasses. It had raised at least $11.6 million in funding, but it’s unclear how much Apple paid for the company.
Apple’s acquisition of Akonia Holographics came as reports suggested it was working on its version of augmented reality glasses or a headset of some sort. While we haven’t heard a lot about these efforts recently, the earlier reports suggested a release as early as 2019 or 2020.
While Apple’s acquisition of Shazam was first reported in December of 2017, it wasn’t until September 24th of 2018 that the deal was officially closed due to regulatory concerns in Europe. Apple announced the finalization of the deal in a press release, saying it would take Shazam ad-free for all users.
While we haven’t yet seen what Apple has in store in terms of deeper Shazam integration within iOS and Apple Music, we’ll likely learn a lot more as time progresses and we head into 2019. Despite Shazam already being integrated with Siri, there are numerous other ways the technology could be expanded on within iOS.
This is another deal that actually took place in December 2017, but news of the acquisition didn’t emerge until October 10th of 2018 when Apple confirmed that it had acquired Spektral, a Danish startup that specialized in software to digitally steerage people and objects from the background.
The deal was said to be valued at around $30 million, though that number was not confirmed by Apple. There are numerous reasons Apple might have acquired Spektral. Its technology can be implemented into the Camera app on iOS, as well as in things like Clips, Final Cut Pro, and iMovie.
October 2018 saw a pair of deals for Apple that weren’t necessarily full acquisitions, but notable agreements nonetheless. First was Dialog, a semiconductor company which has long been a part of Apple’s supply chain.
On October 10th, Apple and Dialog announced a multi-year agreement that will see Apple license power management technology from Dialog. Apple will pay a $300 million upfront payment as part of the deal and will pay another $300 million in purchase agreements over the next three years. Further, Apple announced that it was hiring some 300 Dialog employees who worked on Apple-related projects at the chipmaker.
The deal between Apple and Dialog is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close during the first half of 2019.
On October 15th, it was initially reported that Apple had acquired Asaii, a music analytics company which claimed to be able to “identify future hit artists ten weeks before they chart.” Ultimately, it turned out that Apple did not actually acquire Asaii the company, but rather hired its founders.
With Apple Music’s focus on up and coming artists, namely through its “Up Next” series, it’s clear how the Asaii technology can be implemented into Apple’s arsenal.
The Information reported on November 20th that Apple had acquired Silk Labs, an artificial intelligence startup focused on “software lightweight enough to fit onto consumer hardware like cameras.” While the deal likely occurred earlier in the year, it wasn’t until November that it became public.
Silk Labs was founded in 2015 by three former Mozilla employees with the goal of creating lightweight artificial intelligence that also protects user privacy. Apple has been a huge proponent of using AI in a way that puts privacy first.
Barring any last minute deals, Apple’s final acquisition of 2018 was first reported just two weeks ago when it was revealed that it had acquired Platoon, an “unsigned artist” startup. Platoon was co-founded in 2016 by iTunes veteran Denzyl Feigelson, who worked at Apple for more than 15 years.
Platoon plays nicely into Apple’s acquihire of the Asaii founders and its growing efforts in Apple Music.
Ultimately, Apple made a handful of notable acquisitions in 2018. Over the course of a year, it’s easy to forget about the numerous deals a company the size of Apple makes – and there are likely more deals that have already been made behind the scenes but haven’t yet become public.
Apple’s landmark deals of 2018 include its acquisitions of Texture and Shazam, as well as its $600 million deal with Dialog. The smaller acquisitions, however, indicate Apple’s evolving interest in data, analytics, AI, and much more.