For many years now, we are witnessing a tectonic shift in how technology is being used to revolutionise major sectors around the world. One of the most prominent keywords that keep popping up now and then is the ‘artificial intelligence revolution.’ Tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, etc., have shown deep interest in not just adopting AI but also acquiring AI startups, which has become the new normal.
Apple is winning the race with the ‘You Start, I Purchase’ mindset. The number of acquisitions it has made, without much pomp and shows over a short span of three to four years, is remarkable. Nevertheless, it is a win-win situation for both Apple as well as the startups.
“Apple buys a new company every two or three weeks.”In a recent interview with CNBC, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc,
These are not just words — as per the data compiled by CB Insights, the company has acquired over 20 AI startups till 2019, since the 2010 purchase of Siri.
A Win-Win for Both
Apple – with over one billion customers, using 1.4 billion devices needs constant innovation and upgrades in the services it provides to its unique customer base. Acquiring potential AI startups equip large firms like Apple to fill their talent pool, providing them with an enthusiastic and innovative team and the latest technologies to add to their own AI capabilities. It provides them with a safety net to remain ahead of its competitors and achieve unique user-based services to enlarge its market footprint.
On the other hand, many AI startups are booming up with unique, localised, and user-friendly solutions. As the startups start to mature, they often face the funding dilemma to expand their business activities. At that stage, tech giants like Apple, with ample funding resources, come to the rescue, hence cushioning the expansion and sharing of the risks involved. Moreover, the acquisition enriches the team with financial gains and a stable future in terms of career.
Let’s have a look at some of the prominent Apple’s acquisitions in 2020 —
Seattle-based edge focused AI startup — Xnor.ai — was acquired by Apple in the first month of 2020 to strengthen its capabilities by running AI models on low-resource edge devices instead of relying on the cloud. As per the reports, Apple paid an amount of $200 million.
Xnor.ai has also developed a self-service platform that makes it possible to drop AI-centric code and data libraries into device-centric apps for software developers, including those who are not skilled in artificial intelligence.
An AI-based weather app was added to Apple’s basket in April 2020. It delivers forecasts for your precise location, giving you minute-by-minute predictions for the next hour and hour-by-hour forecasts for the next week. Dark Sky offers hyperlocal weather information. With down-to-the-minute forecasts, you’ll know exactly when the rain will start or stop — right where you’re standing. Apple could use Dark Sky data to bolster its existing core iPhone apps, like the Weather app and Siri.
Voysis-Dublin AI Startup
To equip people with digital voice assistants that can understand and provide feedback in their own natural/native languages can be considered the best technical help a brand can provide to its customer. This is precisely what Apple did by acquiring Dublin AI startup, Voysis in 2020. Voysis’s framework taps into Wavenets, an AI-based tool that Google’s DeepMind first built-in 2016 to generate more human-like machine voice. The intelligence will further improve Apple’s Siri or can be used to provide brand-specific, intelligent voice-system solutions in regional languages to tap into a huge market base across nations.
Apple had also acquired an Israeli AI-based camera startup in 2020. The technology can detect different items in a picture. It also offers “skeleton tracking”, a neural network API capable of detecting body joints and relaying on a real picture of a human. The technology and the know-how gained from the firm will further enhance the quality and a much better experience in its portrait modes to night photography.
Apple, rather than going out for the big-ticket deals, relies on acquiring smaller technological AI-driven firms. The strategy has paid-off really well as it helped strengthen its foothold with regular adding up of cutting-edge technologies in its armour. AI-based solutions are surely the idea to bank on for future growth prospects and outshine your competitors in the long-run.