Apple’s Acquisitions Offer Glimpses of Future Product Plans

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is notoriously secretive when it comes to its plans for future products or services. However, astute Apple watchers can often gain insights into the California-based company’s ideas by paying careful attention to the types of businesses that the company acquires. Unlike many other major tech companies, such as Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) or Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Apple does not usually seek to acquire large businesses.

Instead, the company focuses on buying smaller companies whenever it needs to acquire a specific technology to augment or create a certain product or a service. For example, Apple acquired Siri Inc. in order to gain the startup’s eponymous voice-activated assistant technology. Similarly, Apple acquired fingerprint sensor technology company AuthenTec in order to create the Touch ID fingerprint scanner for the iPhone 5S.

Other acquisitions are simply used to bolster Apple’s existing services or products. For example, over the past year, Apple has acquired several mapping companies that appear to be intended for improving the company’s much-maligned Apple Maps software. Apple originally launched Apple Maps as a part of iOS 6 in September 2012, after removing Google Maps from its mobile operating system. However, the company-supplied application was widely criticized for its lack of geographic details, mislabeled locations, and other glitches. Tim Cook eventually apologized for the problematic app and fired Senior Vice President of iOS software Scott Forstall.

Apple has recently purchased multiple mapping app companies in order to improve its native mapping app, including indoor-GPS company WifiSLAM, GIS (Geographic Information Systems) data company BroadMap, location data company Locationary, and mass transit navigation app company HopStop.

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