Apple has been not-so-silently acquiring small and big firms. Although not in scale and frequency like Yahoo! after Marissa Mayer took over as the CEO, Apple has still made quite a bunch of acquisitions this year.
What does this mean to you and me as consumers of Apple tech? Most specifically, we're looking at iPhone and iPad users. What new features or products or additions can we expect or read from these acquisitions? That's what we're trying to look into.
- Apple is working hard to leap-frog in the maps field. Google is still years ahead but Apple is fast catching up through the acquisition of various location-based startups and companies.
- Apple is looking to bolster its semiconductor research and possibly development too. At the customer-level, this could mean work towards better processors, enhanced battery performance and possibly hint at new chips for new products with unseen design specs. (iWatch, yes).
- Apple could also be working on data compression, image compression etc.
- Apple constantly tweaks its ranking algorithms in the App Store following a string of acquisitions that go back as far as 2012.
AlgoTrim: Image Compression
Apple acquired AlgoTrim, a company after image and data compression whose libraries are used by several companies involved in making apps. Image compression is a double-benefit thing for a company focusing on mobile devices: it helps both faster data exchange and also faster processing. Apple also acquired Anobit in 2011 to work on flash memory for iPhones and iPads. We have rumors about the 128 GB iPhone too. Although seemingly disjointed, I feel that there's something cooking up in Apple's AlgoTrim acquisition that points to either faster processing in the camera and photo apps or relates to storage and data transfer (Facebook, Instagram etc.).
Embark, Locationary, HopStop: Maps
Needless to say, after the Maps fiasco, Apple has doubled down, buckled up and gone full-throttle in rectifying the things. Going by the results, I'd say Apple has turned the tide around in its favor largely through meticulous acquisitions. Whether these are fruitful/successful will be known in the coming years but Apple did this to leap-frog in the field of Maps and location data.
Matcha: App discovery, ranking
Apple doesn't seem to tweak its App Store ranking and search algos quite often but when it does, it catches the attention. Much before acquiring Matcha recently, Apple had captured Chomp. However, most recently, it was noted that Apple was tweaking and changing the algos to consider app engagement as a factoring tool in app ranking.
Passif Semiconductor: Battery Performance
While touted as a low-power wireless semiconductor firm, the acquisition could impact not just iPhone battery but also mean that Apple could be looking for new chips for the rumored iWatch. In devices that are going to be smaller than the iPhone, power-consumption is going to be one of the hardest codes to crack what with escalating features to be embedded in them. Apple also invested and acquired Intrinsity – another semiconductor company involved in faster processing.
WiFiSlam: Indoor location
It would obviously be unheard of if Apple did nothing while Google got its indoor location system right. Apparently, Apple was leaving no stone unturned when it came to locations and maps so WiFiSLAM was picked up and bought by Apple recently. We're yet to see the after effects of this acquisition.
AuthenTec: Biometric sensors for security
Apple has made some strides into biometric sensors and security but none of it is at the production or consumer level. Remember PolarRose, a facial-recognition tech company that was hired about three years ago? AuthenTec's acquisition came at a time when rumors about the fingerprint sensors were thick. Apple could also be thinking about biometric security sensors in upcoming products like the iWatch or say, facial recognition in future iMacs and iTV.