Apple has reportedly bought more companies developing artificial intelligence technology over the past five years than anyone else.
Their key aim is to make the Siri voice assistant smarter and more accurate, according to GlobalData, a market-research firm that compiled a list of AI-related acquisitions by many companies.
As reported by MacRumors, GlobalData has released a report detailing a breakdown of the most AI-related acquisitions per company from 2016 to 2020. Apple has taken the top spot by buying 25 AI companies, trouncing leading tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.
The high number shouldn’t be a surprise, as Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed the company had completed nearly 100 acquisitions over the last six years.
Private tuition for Siri
Nicklas Nilsson, a senior analyst at GlobalData, says, “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.”
“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.” continued Nilsson.
Aurojyoti Bose, a lead analyst at GlobalData, adds, “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.”
Keeping watch on wearables
Apple is also keen to keep the momentum up on Apple Watch development. “Apple also wants to make sure to keep its strong position within wearables,” added Bose, “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.”
Apple is clearly committed to developing and improving Siri by making these acquisitions and deepening integration with all of its devices.