Apple was leading buyer of AI companies between 2016 and 2020

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 2023

Apple was the top acquirer of artificial intelligence companies from 2016 to 2020, beating out companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple



From 2016 to 2020, Apple acquired 25 artificial intelligence firms, according to a new report from GlobalData. The rest of the list of leading AI company buyers included Ireland-based Accenture, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook.

Some of the companies that Apple acquired include Silk Labs, Turi, Drive.ai, and Voysis. Apple doesn't disclose any details about its plans for acquisitions, though the AI company purchases are likely to bolster the company's machine learning and Siri-related technologies.

"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," said GlobalData analyst Nicklas Nilsson.

Credit: GlobalData
Credit: GlobalData



Nilsson notes that the purchase of machine learning startup Inductiv was made to improve Siri data; Voysis was acquired to bolster Siri's natural language processing; and PullString's technology could improve Siri's integration with third-party iOS app.

"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," the analyst said.

The Cupertino tech giant doesn't publicly disclose all of the acquisitions it makes, so it's possible that there are other companies that GlobalData missed.

Back in February, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the company had acquired nearly 100 companies over the course of the last six years.

"We're not afraid to look at acquisitions of any size," Cook said, adding that Apple's focus is on "small, innovative companies that complement our products and help push them forward."

Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,203member
    It’s comforting to know that Apple recognizes the deficiencies of Siri, I think...
    patchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 22
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 3,636member
    The title made me think Apple was buying subsidiaries of AppleInsider (AI).
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 22
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    Given the results, I'd say these were a far bigger waste of money than Beats, which everyone here dumps on.  Apple is to AI companies what Microsoft is to messaging companies, the rumble of impending doom.
    edited March 2021 Beatselijahgmuthuk_vanalingamFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 4 of 22
    yojimbo007yojimbo007 Posts: 1,165member
    And still they cant get their Spell check right... its Jurassic by comparison and has been this way for ages.... Spell check, contextual world recognition and search... overall data analytics suck at Apple hence the dismal Siri . 
    elijahgharry wildJWSCpatchythepirate
  • Reply 5 of 22
    Apple was behind in speaker by priced....
  • Reply 6 of 22
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    And when will they use these companies? They acquired VocalIQ years ago which is smarter than all current AIs. It can understand whole human sentences like “I need a restaurant that has WiFi for the kids.”

    At this point Apple should acquire Yelp for the data. I know it’s expensive but could be a good deal and feed all that info to Siri.
    edited March 2021 byronlqwerty52patchythepirate
  • Reply 7 of 22
    byronlbyronl Posts: 369member
    Beats said:
    And when will they use these companies? They acquired VocalIQ years ago which is smarter than all current AIs. It can understand whole human sentences like “I need a restaurant that has WiFi for the kids.”

    At this point Apple should acquire Yelp for the data. I know it’s expensive but could be a good deal and feed all that info to Siri.
    didn’t they use vocaliq for siri’s new voice? 
  • Reply 8 of 22
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,788member
    Beats said:
    And when will they use these companies? They acquired VocalIQ years ago which is smarter than all current AIs. It can understand whole human sentences like “I need a restaurant that has WiFi for the kids.”

    At this point Apple should acquire Yelp for the data. I know it’s expensive but could be a good deal and feed all that info to Siri.
    As you say, they need to actually use the companies they acquire, so Yelp would be pretty useless. I guess Siri's backend is such a mess that it's hard to improve it, whether that's better than pure neglect I'm not sure... They've had an entire product flop with Siri being a big cause, but they just don't seem to care how crap it is and yet keep pushing it. I asked Siri on my full-size HP to play "more music by this artist" today, and it said "Apple Music doesn't seem to have that", despite the "show all" link in the Music app showing the rest of that album's music. It's just awful. All 4 of my iPhone toting friends have it turned off as its just so crap, and the other two never use it.
    patchythepirate
  • Reply 9 of 22
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 1,128member
    Some of the companies look Siri related: Voysis is a good example. Others are AI for computer vision, AI for data analysis. iPhone camera related? Apple Car related? It's a pretty broad spectrum of expertise!
  • Reply 10 of 22
    I need for Siri’s weather source to tell me the pollen count and what types of allergen  are out there. If you can get the wind velocity I don’t see why it can’t tell me the allergen information. I also need an automation to let me know on the iPad automatically when there is a flood warning or storm forecast for my area. I believe government warnings can come on the phone but not on the iPad. Other than that, for me, Siri does all that I need it  to do and often surprises me pleasantly with things that it can do. I use Siri constantly, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t like it to improve. Since Siri has some kind of anniversary coming up this year, perhaps we will finally get the Siri OS that Renee Richie is always touting with all these acquisitions to help.
    edited March 2021 qwerty52watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 22
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 3,636member
    I need for Siri’s weather source to tell me the pollen count and what types of Allergan is out there. If you can get the wind velocity I don’t see why it can’t tell me the allergen information. I also need an automation to let me know on the iPad automatically when there is a flood warning or storm forecast for my area. I believe government warnings can come on the phone but not on the iPad. Other than that, for me, Siri does all that I need it  to do and often surprises me pleasantly with things that I can do. I use Siri constantly, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t like it to improve. Since Siri has some kind of anniversary coming up this month, perhaps we will finally get the Siri OS that Renee Richie is always touting with all these acquisitions to help.
    Interesting idea. You'd think Apple would want to do that, since it considers health so important.

    As for the government storm warnings, yes it should be available on your iPhone, but is it not on an iPad (or iPad Pro) with cellular ability? Really? That's surprising. Does your iPad lack cellular connectivity?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 22
    Sure did not get Siri that much smarter yet!  It still gets confused when asking general questions!
    elijahgpatchythepirate
  • Reply 13 of 22
    Think of the bright side... These companies can't now fall into the hands of the gang of data miners out there. You all know whom I mean. Your every move is slurped and added to the growing dataset they have on you and your friends/relatives/associates. Orwell must be turning in his grave. If the idea of Big Brother was a warning, not a template for society today.
    qwerty52patchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 22
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,883member
    Beats said:
    And when will they use these companies? They acquired VocalIQ years ago which is smarter than all current AIs. It can understand whole human sentences like “I need a restaurant that has WiFi for the kids.”

    At this point Apple should acquire Yelp for the data. I know it’s expensive but could be a good deal and feed all that info to Siri.
    Just out of curiosity. Are you aware of how good current 'AIs' are and that they go far, far beyond being able to understand sentences like the one you mentioned?

    All AI basically needs big data so any dataset can be valid but you need some serious data management and storage capabilities too along with compute power to crunch the data itself.

    IMO, having an 'assistant' capable of distinguishing between two languages at the same time even if the sentences were relatively simple would mark a huge step forward. 

    jony0elijahgFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 15 of 22
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,784member
    Apple could do worse than acquire IBM (and Watson).  There isn't much overlap these days and an IBM division could bring a lot to Apple.
    edited March 2021 jony0elijahgJWSCwelshdogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 22
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,784member
    Sure did not get Siri that much smarter yet!  It still gets confused when asking general questions!
    Since we added the mini HomePod along with a pair of HomePods in the same great room it's gotten worse for us, now only mini answers, and seems dumber than the HomePods if that's possible.  Don't get me wrong I love all of them for music and TV audio but even asking what the temperature outside is seems too hard at times. 
    patchythepiratemuthuk_vanalingamelijahg
  • Reply 17 of 22
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,425member
    MacPro said:
    Apple could do worse than acquire IBM (and Watson).  There isn't much overlap these days and an IBM division could bring a lot to Apple.
    This is an easy post to dunk on and I suspect some will do that, but I think this is actually a really great idea. 


    OnPartyBusinessjony0elijahgwelshdog
  • Reply 18 of 22
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,447member
    I need for Siri’s weather source to tell me the pollen count and what types of allergen  are out there. If you can get the wind velocity I don’t see why it can’t tell me the allergen information. I also need an automation to let me know on the iPad automatically when there is a flood warning or storm forecast for my area. I believe government warnings can come on the phone but not on the iPad. Other than that, for me, Siri does all that I need it  to do and often surprises me pleasantly with things that it can do. I use Siri constantly, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t like it to improve. Since Siri has some kind of anniversary coming up this year, perhaps we will finally get the Siri OS that Renee Richie is always touting with all these acquisitions to help.
    I think maybe the solution here is to look for apps with Shortcuts support that can give you that information either via Siri or by Widget etc. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 22
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,903member
    I keep thinking there will be a big reveal of Siri 2 or her cousin Sori or something like that. And thinking it will be really, REALLY great and finally give us all what we have expected for years now from Siri. I mean Apple is bound to know how poorly Siri perfoms - they would have all the metrics as to how many times she fails and servig our needs.

    And yes for those paying attention, I like ferns.
    edited March 2021 elijahg
  • Reply 20 of 22
    Beats said:
    And when will they use these companies? They acquired VocalIQ years ago which is smarter than all current AIs. It can understand whole human sentences like “I need a restaurant that has WiFi for the kids.”

    At this point Apple should acquire Yelp for the data. I know it’s expensive but could be a good deal and feed all that info to Siri.
     
    Agreed, let’s not hold our breaths. I remember being excited when they acquired Beats, bc beats had this interesting feature where you could ask it to play custom playlists on the fly, like, “play some chill EDM” or “play some party pop music,” or whatever. What happened to that?? They apparently married themselves to this idea of ‘the story of playlists,’ trying to tackle something before it was ready, while neglecting very simple improvements. The playlists have finally gotten good, but Apple Music could be so much more. Where tf is karaoke for the Apple TV?? Why are the social features worthless in apples most social app?? On and on. 

    And Siri.. over a decade into it and we still have to say one command at a time, if we’re lucky! How hard is it to get Siri to follow “turn my living room lights to amber at fifty percent”?

    I keep saying this, but it really is an insult to its customers for Apple to keep fumbling nearly every service they create for their ecosystem. The saddest part is, normies who aren’t Apple fans, who look at Apple as a whole, see the services as a joke, and thus see the hardware and OS in the same way, not understanding, at all, the quality, security, thoughtful design, integrity of the company, etc. 

    edited March 2021 elijahg
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