Apple acquired 25 artificial intelligence (AI) firms from 2016-2020, according to a new report from GlobalData. The others in the top five list of leading AI company buyers included Ireland-based Accenture, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook.
Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook collectively undertook 60 acquisitions in the AI tech space the time period.
“Apple has been ramping up its acquisition of AI companies, with several deals aimed at improving Siri or creating new features on its iPhones,” Aurojyoti Bose, Lead Business Fundamentals Analyst at GlobalData, says. “Machine learning start-up Inductiv was acquired to improve Siri’s data, Irish voice tech start-up Voysis was bought to improve Siri’s understanding of natural language, and PullString should make Siri easier for iOS developers to use.”
He adds: “Apple has gone on a shopping spree in efforts to catch up with Google (Google Assistant) and Amazon (Alexa). Siri was first on the market, but it consistently ranks below the two in terms of “smartness”, which is partly why Apple is far behind in smart speaker sales. Apple also want to make sure to keep its strong position within wearables. It is the dominant player in smartwatches. The acquisition of Xnor.ai last year was made to improve its on-edge processing capabilities, which has become important as it eliminates the need for data to be sent to the cloud, thereby improving data privacy.”