Tim Cook: Apple Eyeing Potential Acquisition Targets

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Apple's sitting on a big pile of cash, and CEO Tim Cook today said some of that money could be used on acquisitions.

Cook, speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet conference, said Apple will be "acquiring some companies" in 2013 with its substantial cash reserves of $137 billion. But he also said Apple has shied away from buying big companies.

"We have looked at large companies," Cook said. "In each case that we've done that, it didn't pass our tests."

Cook didn't completely close the door on big acquisitions, saying Apple will continue to look at larger companies that could potentially help the company make great products but won't make a deal simply to acquire revenue.

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Historically, Apple has stuck to smaller acquisitions rather than the kind of large-scale mega-mergers and acquisitions that have become commonplace in the IT industry today. The largest purchase in Apple's history came in 1997 with NexT, but the deal was more memorable for bringing Steve Jobs back to Apple than the acquisition's price tag (just over $400 million).

But that's not to say that Apple hasn't been active in acquiring other companies; Cook said over the last three years Apple has averaged about six acquisitions a year. In many of those cases, Cook said, Apple has taken the skilled employees of an acquired company and moved them to another project within Apple. He cited an example of moving a team that was working on a PowerPC-related design project and instead moved them over to work on the iPhone platform.

Apple has also made some smaller, target acquisitions for technology that's had a big impact on its existing products, such as Siri, the voice-controlled software that became a notable feature on the iPhone 5, and Chomp, a mobile app search engine that was integrated into Apple's App Store on iTunes.


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