December 24, 2013
Media Reports Apple Secretly Acquired Two Tech Firms Months Ago
Bryan P. Carpender for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
If you’ve been paying attention, you know Apple has been on something of a roll this year in terms of acquiring companies – that’s no secret. But what is interesting is that Apple acquired two tech companies months ago and has kept that information quiet.Well, those secrets are out as Apple adds two new tech companies – a digital mapping firm and an innovative note taking productivity solution – to its growing list of acquisitions
MAP IT OUT FOR ME
First up is BroadMap, a mapping technologies company specializing in broadband mapping and custom-fit Geographic Information System (GIS) solutions.
Though BroadMap doesn’t have a central feature that is an obvious choice for integration into Apple’s existing product, the company has a comprehensive list of products and services that likely attracted Apple as it continues working to improve Apple Maps.
What makes this acquisition unusual is the conflicting information about the status of the deal. According to its Twitter feed from the afternoon of December 23, BroadMap doesn’t seem to know they’ve been acquired – or at least it is struggling to come to terms with it.
BroadMap tweeted the following: “Sorry to disappoint everyone but contrary to current reports BroadMap has not been purchased by Apple.”
Interestingly enough, that tweet was deleted shortly after it was posted and no longer appears on their feed.
Adding to the confusion is the LinkedIn profile of BroadMap’s CEO, Daniel Perrone. The BroadMap, LLC entry under his experience heading used to begin with the all-caps declaration, “ACQUIRED BY FORTUNE 5 COMPANY,” and went on to include the accomplishment of having successfully positioned the company “for ACQUISITION BY FORTUNE 5 to support their digital mapping efforts.”
While none of the top 5 companies on the Fortune 500 list has a digital mapping product, guess which company is in the No. 6 slot? Apple!
Perrone’s LinkedIn profile has since been updated and the specific references to acquisition no longer appear. Whether the profile was changed at Apple’s request or it was Perrone’s correction is anybody’s guess.
IT'S ALL ABOUT TOP TALENT
The main reason why BroadMap was so attractive to Apple was its internal talent pool of mapping experts. The specifics of this acquisition are still murky, but it appears BroadMap’s management and many key staff members joined Apple earlier this year.
Apparently, Apple bought BroadMap’s intellectual property and has licensed it back to it, allowing BroadMap to continue servicing existing clients.
Another recent tweet from BroadMap seems to offer reassurance that it is still around: “We are working on updating the website. The offices were moved from NH to VA. Website has been unattended for a while.”
Given the lack of attention to its website and the nebulous nature of how this acquisition has come to light, it’s likely there is no marketing staff remaining behind at BroadMap to help navigate this transition.
As for who is servicing BroadMap’s existing clients, we’re not sure if it’s legacy staff or if they have farmed it out to a third party.
QUITE THE CATCH
The other stealthy acquisition is Catch, which operated a web-based note taking service and an app for both iOS and Android called Catch Notes. Known for its ability to sync over the cloud, its simple user interface and its ability to sort notes with both text and media, Catch was quite popular among many productivity app fans.
It was also popular with Apple itself, which featured and promoted the Catch app in its iPhone marketing efforts across print, display and web platforms.
Catch users were taken by surprise a few months ago when the company abruptly announced it would be shutting down at the end of August.
“Catch has made the difficult decision to take the company in a different direction. As such, we will be terminating service next month. We value our users and have greatly enjoyed providing Catch to millions of people over the last several years, but it is time for us to move on.”
The shutdown was even more unexpected given that only a month earlier, Catch had announced its business enterprise collaboration service, called Catch Team. It’s highly unusual for a company to launch a new product, only to close up shop a month later.
Interestingly enough, Catch also used to operate Compass, a location-based Android application designed to “annotate your world” by allowing users to take notes about individual places. The Compass app is no longer available, indicating Apple may be looking to incorporate certain characteristics into its own products.
It’s difficult to imagine Catch shuttering its operations at such a successful point in its history. However, if you factor in a direct acquisition by Apple, the pieces of the puzzle start to fit. It’s possible Apple is hoping to use Catch’s note taking technology to enhance its own productivity-based experience.
Apple’s acquisitions often correlate directly to its product development, so it’s a safe bet these latest additions to Apple’s tech stable might see some of their capabilities integrated into upcoming iDevices and iOS releases.
2013 has been a banner year for Apple in terms of acquisitions; compared to 2012, it tripled the amount of companies it purchased. As 9to5Mac reports, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed Apple made 15 strategic acquisitions in 2013, but it has yet to reveal all of them.
No word yet on when the remaining acquisitions might be revealed or what areas they might be in.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” said Apple in a predictable statement.
We’ve heard it so often lately that it’s starting to sound like a broken record.