Apple has bought nine companies in fiscal 2013, according to CEO Tim Cook. The comments came at this year's D conference when Mr. Cook was asked by Kara Swisher why Apple didn't purchase more companies.
"Let's talk about something more mundane—your money. Your piles and piles of money," Ms. Swisher said, according to The Verge. " Why doesn't Apple do anything with it?"
"In previous years, we were on a pace of acquiring a company every 70 days or so, so we'd acquire six or seven companies in a year," Mr. Cook replied. "This year we've already acquired 9 companies."
Apple's fiscal year starts at the beginning of October, but even nine acquisitions in just under eight months would mean that Apple has dramatically stepped up its acquisitions strategy. This is even more interesting in that word of these purchases has largely gone unreported.
Walt Mossberg addressed this point when he asked if Apple had announced all of those acquisitions. According to GigaOM's Tom Krazit, Mr. Cook replied, "Of course not!" The Verge also said that Mr. Cook replied with, "Only when we have to."
That means that Apple has been picking up private companies, as publicly-owned and traded companies have to go through a process of announcing when they are bought.
Walt Mossberg also asked if Apple was looking at any large acquisitions. Historically, Apple has bought companies for a few hundred million dollars at most, companies whose people and technology can then be incorporated into Apple's culture and products.
"We're not currently looking at a big one," Mr. Cook said, "but we're not opposed to doing that. The key is will it help us make a great product?" He added, "We're not afraid of large acquisitions."
We want to emphasize that Apple buying nine companies in the last eight months is a big deal. The company has often been accused of not using its vast cash hoard to great effect—a charge that has had merit since Apple crossed the US$100 billion mark—but doubters should take note. Apple is clearly willing to be aggressive when it sees the need.