Apple is widely thought of as a major innovator in the tech industry. While it’s true that Cupertino does employ some of the best designers and engineers in the world, Apple simply wouldn’t be where it is without a large number of strategic acquisitions. Most notably, iOS and OS X wouldn’t even exist without the purchase of NeXT. Of course, that acquisition also brought Steve Jobs back to Apple, but that serves to highlight the strength of a smart acquisition. Not only will purchasing a company net you products and patents, but you’re gaining an influx of amazing employees as well.
Today, I’d like to walk through a number of important acquisitions Apple has made in the last decade. From the A6 SoC to multitouch displays to Siri, Apple has relied heavily on acquired technology to build the iPhone, iPad, and iOS. It’s important to remember that purchases like these help make Apple what it is, and even the best engineers in the world need some fresh ideas from time to time.
FingerWorks, founded by doctoral students at the University of Delaware, focused on developing numerous devices like the TouchStream multitouch keyboard. Its quirky products never took off on a large scale, but the core technology and patents were successful enough to garner the attention of Apple. In 2005, Apple purchased the company, and effectively shut down the existing business. Two years later, the iPhone came out, and heavily featured multitouch technology. Even if Apple was working on multitouch devices before the acquisition, it’s clear that the expertise and patent portfolio that came along with FingerWorks helped make multitouch displays become an industry standard.
App Store Genius
Chomp was founded in 2009, and served as a search engine for iOS and Android apps. The search tool was available on the web and as an app, and it enabled users to discover new and relevant apps more easily than Apple or Google’s built-in search engines. It received millions of dollars worth of venture capital funding, and even partnered with Verizon to build a backend for the telecom’s app store. Despite its success as an independent company, Apple was able to snatch up Chomp in early 2012 for a reported $ 50 million. The Android and iOS apps disappeared, and the Chomp technology appears to be powering app searches and the App Store Genius functionality currently featured on the App Store.
In 2010, Apple unveiled the first iPad. Inside of it was a powerful custom SoC designed by Apple called the A4. Later came the A5, A5X, A6, A6X, and the rumored upcoming A7 chip. However, none of these outstanding SoCs would even be possible if Apple didn’t make a handful of strategic acquisitions over the last few years. In 2008, Apple picked up P.A. Semi for $ 280 million, 2010 saw the acquisition of Intrinsity for $ 121 million, and Passif Semiconductor was purchased earlier this year for an unknown figure. With this ever-increasing pool of talent and patents, Apple continues to make a name for itself in the world of SoC design.