Apple acquired two more companies in 2013, further adding to its mapping infrastructure by buying BroadMap. The company also purchased what seems to have been its favorite note-taking app, Catch, an Evernote competitor.
While Apple has purchased 15 companies in calendar 2013, only 10 of those have been announced. 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman did some sleuthing, however, and citing a combination of unnamed sources and LinkedIn profile information, uncovered the two purchases above.
Apple is unique among the tech giants in that it uses company acquisitions not to buy out competition or purchase new revenue streams, but instead to integrate those companies and their key people into new and existing product lines.
Apple Maps has been an area of intense acquisitions for Apple, as the company has purchased a number of infrastructure companies, transit and routing services, and other mapping data companies.
BroadMap is (or was) a company that analyzed and managed geographical data, providing that service to a number of third party companies, including Apple. BroadMap CEO Daniel Perrone's LinkedIn profile now says that his company was acquired by a "Fortune 5" company.
The 2013 Fortune 5 doesn't include a company with a mapping product, but Apple is #6 on that list. Allowing for some creative license on the part of Mr. Perrone, and adding to that the reality that a number of top BroadMap managers engineers now list Apple as their employer, it seems a safe bet that Apple acquired the company. 9to5Mac also cited unnamed sources confirming the purchase.
All of this is part and parcel of Apple's efforts to make Apple Maps into a world-class service that can compete toe-to-toe with Google Maps. To that end, Apple Maps has been vastly improved since its much-criticized release in late 2012.
If you're interested, there is an intensely boring video of BroadMap's management explaining what their company did, at least until it was acquired.
Catch is a curious acquisition for Apple, as the company's focus was a cross platform note-taking and organizing app also called Catch. Apple doesn't often buy apps, though it has done so to fill out product areas it seemed to consider essential. For instance, Logic, Final Cut Pro, iTunes, and Siri were all purchased from or as outside companies.
Catch, though, seems like a relatively minor product. It's a note-taking app that some viewed as a viable competitor to the popular Evernote. The reality, however, is that Apple seemed to love Catch, having promoted the app in its Apple Store retail locations, at Apple media events, and on Apple's website as a reason to buy an iPhone.
In addition to its eponymous app, Catch also had an Android app called Compass that allowed users to take location-based notes. That's a product that could also fit into Apple's mapping strategy, but until either or both concepts emerge with an Apple logo on them sometime in the future, it's impossible to know why Apple bought the company.
Catch’s former Vice President of Business Development, Pierre-Yves Couteau, had a note in his LinkedIn profile that his company reached 3.5 million users until it was acquired. Not surprisingly, many of its former employees now work at Apple.