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Jul 29, 2020

The number of AI start-ups Apple has acquired is extremely high. Is it to expand its advantage or catch up with its opponents?

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In recent years, the hottest field in the technology industry is none other than artificial intelligence. The major technology giants and Internet companies have invested heavily in research and development. According to a report by the American research company Tractica, it is estimated that by 2030, the global artificial intelligence market will expand to 367.1 billion US dollars.

At present, the industry generally says that IBM, Microsoft, and Google are “the world’s top three in AI.” Compared with Apple, it seems that it has put most of its energy on smartphones in the past ten years, and it hasn’t seen much of artificial intelligence. So the major media have judged that: Apple has fallen behind in the field of artificial intelligence, and it is about to be subverted by other technology giants.

As early as 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook responded to this question in this interview:

Under normal circumstances, we will not discuss related technologies before preparing to launch the product on the market. Not just artificial intelligence, but also in other fields: we only discuss technologies that are about to go on sale.

The meaning between the lines is: Apple is not behind in artificial intelligence, because he believes that artificial intelligence is “fundamentally changing the way people interact with technology” and also believes in its importance to Apple’s future.

Apple’s M&A transaction team is obviously a “good American employee” and bears the CEO’s words to heart, because in the past 10 years, Apple has acquired more artificial intelligence startups than any other large technology competitor.

According to data from the market data research platform CB Insights, from 2010 to 2019, a total of 635 acquisitions of artificial intelligence startups were conducted. Among them, Apple topped the list with 20 acquisitions, followed by Google (14) and Microsoft (10).

In recent months, Apple has continued its acquisition boom. In January of this year, the company spent $200 million to acquire, a Seattle edge AI startup; in April, it acquired Irish natural language company Voysis; in May, it acquired machine learning startups. Company Inductive.

For Apple, these acquisitions are almost all related to new products or new features. For example, Apple acquired Novauris Technologies and Voysis in order to improve the voice recognition capabilities of its voice assistant platform; while acquiring companies such as Perceptio and RealFace is to help develop its Apple ID technology.

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