Apple Acquires Online Mapper Poly9, Continues Buying Spree

Apple's reported buyout of mapping software company Poly9 would be at least the fourth acquisition by the iPhone maker this year.

While that's not a lot versus, say, Google's 20 buyouts over the past 12 months, it is significant by Apple's standards.It also is an acquisition that directly would help Apple in its battle vs. Google, a leader in mapping technology.

In fact, it would be one more company than Apple bought during 2008 and 2009 combined (though these numbers are always a bit mysterious in that Apple, like other companies, doesn't always divulge smaller deals involving private companies). It would be the most since 2002, when Apple bought five companies, according to Wikipedia's list.

Don't Miss! Hottest tech M&A deals of 2010 slideshow

Poly9, according to a report in Canadian news site Le Soleil, would bolster Apple's mapping and location-oriented technology base. Among the 5-year-old company's claims to fame is providing software used by NORAD to track Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. (Network World columnist Mark Gibbs reviewed Poly9's FreeEarth offering a few years back.)

In April, Apple was reported to have acquired Siri, a maker of an iPhone app that serves as a personal assistant.

Also in April, it was reported that Apple was buying Intrinsity, an Austin company widely credited with the design used in the iPad's A4 CPU, for $121 million.

Apple kicked off the year by purchasing Quattro Wireless, a company involved in mobile advertising, for an estimated $275 million.

Speculation is that Apple's shopping spree could be far from over, with Business Insider even reporting that Apple could fork over as much as $1 billion in a buyout if the acquisition is right. Apple has a former Goldman Sachs banker named Adrian Perica working on the M&A front for it.

Of course buying out companies isn't the sure path to success in the tech industry. When Apple surpasses Microsoft earlier this year as the top tech company based on market cap, industry watchers emphasized that it was Apple's ability to innovate that gave it the edge.

Follow Bob Brown on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/alphadoggs

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