Apple has purchased some 29 companies since the beginning of fiscal 2013 (October of 2012), and five just since the end of the of the March quarter of 2014. If you throw in Beats, which hasn't closed yet, that makes 30 companies and a clear indication that Apple is becoming more aggressive in buying outside firms.
Apple has historically acquired far fewer companies than other corporate giants its size, but that strategy has evolved under the stewardship of CEO Tim Cook. Apple has bought a number of companies to boost its mapping services, for instance, and it also bought companies to form the foundation of keystone technologies such as Touch ID.
"We're always looking in the acquisition space," Mr. Cook said during Tuesday's conference call. "But we don't let our money burn a hole in our pockets, and we don't do things that aren't strategic. [...] It's not my goal to acquire a certain amount of companies or spend a certain amount of money."
The Beats acquisition also indicated a change in the rules. At US$3 billion, it was the first acquisition we know about above the $400 million acquihire Steve Jobs and NeXT way back in 1997. Other than Beats, Apple has specialized in buying small companies it could integrate into existing Apple products and other technologies.
While Tim Cook has frequently touted the number of company he has bought, Apple has continued to be secretive about which companies it buys. So far this year, we know about SnappLabs, Burstly, Luxvue, and Spotsetter, with the last two numbered among the five purchased in the last three and a half months.