Apple has been on an acquisition spree but is remaining secretive

At Apple’s annual meeting in Cupertino, California, chief executive Tim Cook dropped a curious factoid: In the past 16 months, Apple has bought 23 companies. Like Cisco, IBM, Salesforce.com, Oracle, Yahoo, and other aging tech giants seeking to stay relevant, Apple has been on an acquisition binge. The mobile device, PC, and software maker keeps lots of cash on hand. Enough cash to round up a whole flock of acqui-hires, technology buys, and other M&A deals.

Speaking to shareholders at a meeting on Friday, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook noted that his company has acquired 23 companies over the last roughly 16 months. That time frame would appear to exclude all of the known acquisitions reported to have occured within 2012, including ChompRedmaticiaAuthenTec and Particle. For its fiscal year 2013 (the accounting year that ended last September), Apple reported $496 million in net “payments made in connection with business acquisitions.” Companies that Apple was reported to have purchased during that period include WiFiSlamLocationaryHopStopPassif SemiconductorMatchaEmbark and AlgoTrim.

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