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Apple was leading buyer of AI companies between 2016 and 2020

Credit: Apple

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

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,, 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 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."