Over the past few years, Big Tech firms have begun venturing into new avenues of business outside their core sectors. Part-business survival tactic and part-business expansion, these companies have embarked on diversification journeys nonetheless. With a fast-changing future, and with Industry 4.0 in full swing, they realized that they cannot limit themselves by the industry that earned them their name and stature in the market.
Today, we will be exploring 5 ways tech giant Apple is diversifying its business. After all, CEO Tim Cook said that Apple buys a company every two to three weeks on average, in a 2019 interview with CNBC, In the 6-month period preceding the interview, Apple had bought approximately 20 to 25 companies.
While Apple’s modus operandi is not to publicize company buyouts, especially since they prefer to purchase smaller firms as it is “primarily looking for talent and intellectual property,” as Cook explained, Apple does announce when it has made a big sale.
According to Bloomberg, Mobeewave Inc. has developed technology that could transform iPhones into mobile payment terminals, letting shoppers tap their credit card or smartphone on another phone to process a payment. The system works with an app and doesn’t require hardware beyond a Near Field Communications, or NFC, chip, which iPhones have included since 2014.
This diversification effort puts Apple in direct competition with Square Inc., a major provider of payment hardware and software for smartphones and tablets.
This latest purchase fits with Apple’s push in the fields of finance and payments such as its Apple Pay service, which it launched in 2014. Last year, the US company also launched its own credit card, dubbed the Apple Card.
2. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
Apple has been developing its own AR and VR technology for years, with great ambitions to add branded headsets to its line of products. Similar to how Facebook assimilated the Oculus brand, Apple too has gone out of its way to acquire those that can help make its AR/VR vision a reality.
One of the acquisitions that we know about has been that of US virtual reality company NextVR, which has a decade of experience bringing together VR with video live streaming. The buyout was first reported by 9to5Mac in April, and the deal was supposedly valued at around $100 million. While Bloomberg eventually confirmed the report a month later through Apple, the real value of the deal was never confirmed.
NextVR holds over 40 patents in its respective fields, and has in the past signed deals with major companies like NBA. Apple’s interest is certainly justified.
“I think, when you look at AR today, you would see that there are consumer applications, there are enterprise applications,” Cook said in January after the company reported earnings, as per CNBC. “This is the reason I’m so excited about it is, you rarely have a new technology where business and consumer both see it as key to them.”
In the past few years, Apple has been ramping up its involvement in the healthcare sector, mostly through its wearables, like the Apple Watch. After all, the Tim Cook at one point said that health will likely be the company’s “greatest contribution to mankind” in a conversation with CNBC.
As such, Apple has been hiring doctors, health coaches and engineers to further its impact in the sector, through software and hardware offerings.
Among its health-oriented software is the iPhone’s Health app, which allows patients to visualize and securely store their health records, as well as share them with doctors and other medical personnel.
Additionally, Apple has even launched its own branded clinics dedicated specifically to its employees, under the AC Wellness name.
Investment bank Morgan Stanley predicts Apple will make more than $15 billion in sales by 2021 from its health offerings alone, based on the estimates of 14 analysts. This number ratchets up to $313 billion by 2027, according to the same calculations.
4. Video streamingWith Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and others making major bucks in the video streaming business, it was only a matter of time before Apple joined the fray. Launched in November of 2019, Apple TV+ represented a serious effort by the California-based firm to grab a piece of the video streaming pie from its competitors.
Like its competitors, Apple TV+ has opted to produce a wide array of exclusive original content. In January, the service had tallied 33.6 million customers in the U.S. alone. However, most of these were free users whom had been provided with an annual subscription as part of a promotion rewarding those who had recently bought certain Apple products like the iPhone and iPad,
Apple TV+ recently landed 18 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, making history with the most program and acting nominations for a streaming service in its first year, a certain push for the platform that will likely earn it subscribers over the long run.
5. Mobile Device Management (MDM)
One of Apple’s most recent acquisitions has seen it venture into the field of mobile device management (MDM).
According to intelligent workspace platform Citrix, MDM refers to any tool or software designed to help IT administrators control and secure mobile devices like smartphones and tablets across an organization. In a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) world, MDM is more relevant than ever.
This June, Apple bought Fleetsmith, a startup specializing in MDM that will now help businesses to deploy iPhones and Macs to their staff.
“Although Apple is primarily a consumer company that sells phones and computers to individuals, in recent years it has started to turn more attention to the enterprise market, partnering with companies such as IBM, SAP and Cisco and persuading businesses to buy iPhones and Macs as tools for their workforce,” CNBC explained. “The Fleetsmith acquisition will help offer a wider range of products and services to enterprise clients.”
Essentially, Fleetsmith’s software makes it easier to remotely configure, wipe and deploy these devices, the US news site continued.