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Apple in position to increase acquisition activity in 2010 - report

With a war chest of $23 billion in cash, along with increasing competition by Google, Apple looks to continue its recent trend of acquisitions in the new year.

While Apple has acquired only 11 small companies since the return of Steve Jobs in 1997, three of those have been in the past five months, indicating an increased emphasis by the company on acquisitions. By comparison, Google has acquired 11 companies in the last 18 months.

According to BusinessWeek, Apple has begun to use its large stores of cash to help it acquire small, innovate startups that will help broaden its position in the rapidly changing technology market.

"There are obvious strategic reasons Apple might want to become more acquisitive. The company is moving beyond its traditional base in personal computers and charging into smartphones and mobile computing. As mobile computing takes shape, Apple, Google, Nokia, and other traditional tech titans have become more active in searching for startups that can help them with the new terrain. In Apple's case, it has a war chest of $23 billion in cash and short-term securities to pursue acquisitions," writes BusinessWeek.

In the past, Apple reportedly had no organized merger and acquisition strategy, instead executives would bring potential deals directly to Jobs, who had final say.

According to BusinessWeek Apple's "ad-hoc" approach to acquisitions is what cost the company a potential deal with mobile advertising firm AdMob. Instead the company was acquired by Google.

Last year, Apple hired Adrian Perica, a specialist in mergers and acquisitions. He is reportedly the first specialist of this type at Apple. In the wake of Apple's lost bid for AdMob last year, Perica was brought in to make sure that Apple did not make the same mistake again.

Music streaming service Lala was acquired last December by Apple, in an uncharacteristically quick deal taking weeks instead of months. Apple reportedly learned its lesson, "It was clear that Apple didn't want to lose out again, and especially not to Google," writes BusinessWeek.