SiriSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • Apple has acquired more AI companies than any of the big four tech companies from 2016-2020.
  • The company is investing heavily in Siri and other AI and machine learning capabilities.

Apple has been on an artificial intelligence acquisition spree over the last few years, and one research firm has the stats to prove it.

As reported by MacRumors, GlobalData has posted a report detailing a breakdown of the most AI-related acquisitions per company from 2016 to 2020 and Apple has landed on top, beating out other major tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. It's not surprising since Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed the company has made almost 100 acquisitions over the last six years.

During Apple's February shareholders meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that Apple had acquired close to 100 companies over the course of the last six years. "We're not afraid to look at acquisitions of any size," said Cook. "Focus is on small, innovative companies that complement our products and help push them forward."

GlobalData analyst Aurojyoti Bose notes that of the 60 AI acquisitions made by the big four tech companies over that period, Apple has made almost half of them.

"Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook collectively undertook 60 acquisitions in the AI tech space during 2016-2020 while Apple led the race with 25 acquisitions. AI has remained a key focus area for tech giants and growing competition to dominate the space has resulted in an acquisition spree among these companies."

Bose goes on to say that most of the acquisitions are attempts by Apple to improve Siri, its smart assistant that, despite being the first to market, has consistently ranked behind the Google Assistant and Alexa.

"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."

If you're wondering what iMore considers the best smart speaker, check out our list of the Best Smart Speakers of 2021.

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It's not a surprise to see Apple investing heavily in artificial intelligence. John Giannandrea, who Apple recruited from Google a few years ago, has taken over products like Siri and the company's long rumored Apple Car project.