Apple leads other tech giants in AI purchases, analysis finds

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Apple bought more AI companies than any of its big tech competitors between 2010 and 2019, according to an analyis from CB Insights. Many of these purchases have been used to create new features on Apple’s flagship iPhones. But others may help power Apple’s shift towards digital products as sales […]

  • Apple bought more AI companies than any of its big tech competitors between 2010 and 2019, according to an analyis from CB Insights.
  • Many of these purchases have been used to create new features on Apple’s flagship iPhones.
  • But others may help power Apple’s shift towards digital products as sales for those services rise.
  • As sales of the iPhone have dipped, income from products like Apple Pay and Apple Music may be the company’s future.
  • Apple faces some blowback in its push into services. The tech giant is currently dealing with antitrust investigations in Europe and North America stemming from complaints by app makers that the company takes too big a piece from App Store financial transactions.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Apple bought more AI startups than any other tech company over most of the last decade, according to data first reported on by PCMag.com’s Jason Cohen.

The data, compiled by market research company CB Insights, tracks which companies made the most AI purchases between 2010 and 2019. Apple took the top spot with 20 acquisitions, followed by Google at 14 and then Microsoft at 10.

The report notes that Apple’s spending spree has been critical to developing new features for new iPhone models. For instance, the tech giant’s acquisition of Israeli facial recognition outfit RealFace was critical to its development of the Face ID unlocking technology that became a key selling point of the iPhone X.

But other buys, like Shazam in 2017, may help the company’s push into digital services like Apple Music, a growing area for the company as sales flag for its iconic products like the iPhone.

Apple is relying less on income from physical devices; 2019 marked the first year that the iPhone made up less than half the tech giant’s revenue since 2012, partly displaced by increased business for services including its App Store, Apple Pay, Apple Music, and Apple Care. 

These products have had a notable rise in popularity. In the second quarter of 2020, even as Apple’s revenue from iPhone sales fell, services income rose year-over-year by 16 percent. Data compiled by research firm Bernstein, first reported on by Quartz’s John Detrixhe, indicates that Apple Pay is on track to account for 10% of all card payments by 2020. And just between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve last year, customers bought a hefty $1.42 billion worth of products through the company’s App Store.

Such moves have not been without blowback. Complaints of anti-competitive practices have led to antitrust investigations in both the U.S. and Europe, driven by app developers who say the 30% Apple takes from every App Store transaction is too large a slice. The company has pushed back by releasing studies it says proves the App Store’s policies leave most of the money for developers and are comparable to other app marketplaces.

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