While Google is said to be the champion in artificial intelligence (AI), its fiercest rival Apple seems to be looking to catch up to the Mountain View, California-based giant. According to data shared by data analytics firm GlobalData, Apple acquired the highest number of Artificial Intelligence (AI) companies, ahead of Google, Accenture, Microsoft, and Facebook – other leaders in terms of AI acquisitions. Apple has bought companies like Emotient, Turi, Glimpse, RealFace, Shazam, SensoMotoric, Silk Labs, Drive.ai, Laserlike, SpectralEdge, Voysis, XNOR.ai, and more over the past few years. These acquisitions come as the company’s aim towards improving the AI and machine learning capabilities of its products and services. Apple does not make all of its acquisitions public, so it is possible that there are other companies that it has acquired over the years.
A report in MacRumours quoted Apple CEO Tim Cook as saying during a shareholders meeting in February that the company had acquired close to 100 companies over the course of the last six years. According to Aurojyoti Bose, a GlobalData analyst, growing competition in the AI space has led to an acquisition spree. “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 was quoted as saying in the GlobalData report. Many of Apple’s acquisitions have been aimed at improving Siri, a report in MacRumours says. The report indicates that the company acquired Inductiv to improve Siri’s data, and Voysis to improve Siri’s understanding of natural language.
Some acquisitions also aim towards the company’s future plans like Drive.ai, a self-driving startup that Apple purchased in 2019, presumably to advance its autonomous car development project. The MacRumours report also said that these acquired companies are also on an AI talent-hiring spree and collectively posted more than 14,000 jobs in AI in 2020.