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Apple's Sudden Urge to Splurge

The iPhone maker’s acquisitions tripled in fiscal 2013
Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim CookPhotograph by Noah Berger/Bloomberg

Apple isn’t anyone’s idea of an acquisition machine, especially compared with Google or Oracle. Even as Apple has piled up cash—almost $150 billion—it’s largely kept to the go-it-alone ethos established by Steve Jobs. In 2013, as profits plateaued for the first time in about a decade, that changed: The iPhone maker snapped up businesses that offer it a chance to add technology for future products.

Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said in October that Apple bought 15 companies in the fiscal year that ended in September, compared with five known acquisitions in the previous one. Although the broader implications of the purchases remain to be seen, some shore up areas where Apple wants to improve, from search and mapping software to semiconductors. The company declined to comment for this story.