- Apple invests big into technologies, focuses on high end features on low cost devices
- Google continues to invest in Healthcare, AI, and emerging markets
- Facebook focuses on optimising social media platform, Invests big into India’s JIO
While 2020 is adding insult to injury with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic further weakening the global businesses. The pandemic though is cataclysmic but has proven to be beneficial for digital giants and pharmaceutical sectors.
The same is reflected in the race by US technology stocks to claim the lion’s share in emerging technologies either through acquisition or an investment. Augment Reality, Artificial intelligence, Healthcare and Emerging digital markets such as India has caught the eyes of these US tech giants.
Apple Focussing on AI, Voice Assistant and AR/MR/VR
Following the acquisition of the University of East Anglia research lab originated Spectral Edge, a photography technology start up, Apple (NYSE:AAPL) continued its mergers and acquisition activities in 2020.
Early on in January, the Cupertino based Trillion Dollar company acquired Xnor.ai, a Seattle based AI start-up for US$200 million. Xnor.ai in earlier 2019 made to the list of Forbes AI 50.
With Apple looking forward to strengthening its forte into emerging sectors Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Learning (ML) and Deep Learning (DL) of Artificial Intelligence, the acquisition of Xnor.ai falls perfectly in line. Xnor.ai algorithms are highly efficient and enable the users to accomplish high end tasks such as object recognition even on low configuration hardware and substantially reduces dependency on powerful processor or connection to a cloud. With the US market nearing saturation for Apple among the mobile and laptop segments, Apple is now betting big on developing nations, mainly south-east Asia, to strengthen its sales figures further.
Apple had been consolidating on the AI front, developing new Natural Language Processing algorithms will substantially help it on the Augmented and Mixed Reality frontiers. The recently released all new IPAD Pro is equipped with Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors which enable its users to utilise high end Mixed Reality applications with absolute precision. Apple plans to utilise the Machine learning algorithms from Xnor to equip the low-cost hardware such as security cameras to use advanced applications involving artificial visual intelligence.
In March 2020, Dark Sky, a popular weather app was acquired by Apple. AAPL also announced that it would be discontinuing the android and Wear OS version in July to provide exclusive and advanced weather information to IOS users.
The Dark Sky Application on IOS can be purchased for US$3.99. As per the user reports, the app has already been pulled down by the competitor Google on its OS android.
In April Voysis, an Irish AI platform that enabled voice interactions with digital retailers was acquired by Apple. The platform might be used by Apple to improve Apple’s Siri voice assistance further.
The latest acquisition was NextVR in May, which held over 40 patents and utilised the technology to enable high quality video streams of music and sporting events to Virtual Reality headsets.
With Apple’s newest love of Augmented Reality (AR), Apple plans to leverage the NextVR IP for its ARKit platform that uses a LIDAR scanner and deep sensing systems to provide seamless AR experience to users.
Apple inorganic growth is highly targeted across AR, AI, Edge computing to enable low cost devices with high end features of the future to shape its growth in the US and emerging markets globally, now that would be an interesting thing to watch.
Google bets big on Cloud, accelerate AI programs
Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) owned Mountainview California based Google, the multinational conglomerate which tops almost all major lists of innovative companies globally making it most responsible for shaping up the future of the Internet. Google enjoys a monopoly in the search engine, maps, and mobile operating systems with substantially growing in virtual payments. Google Pay remains one of the preferred and fastest growing payment solutions and fares well against Apple Pay, PayPal, Samsung Pay and Facebook Pay.
So far since its inception, Google acquired 200+ companies to grow the business inorganically. While 2020 proves to be troublesome for most of the world, Google continued its path by acquiring Pointy, an Irish startup which relies on a blend of software and hardware to assist brick and mortar shops with no e-commerce presence to list on the portal without actually setting up an e-commerce infrastructure on the back end.
Pointy enables the neighbourhood mom and pops to plug in a device and carry out the business as usual. The products get uploaded to the e-commerce portal as soon as they are scanned into the inventory of the shop, making it hassle free, especially for the non-tech savvy business owners.
Late last year, in November Google, had entered into a definitive agreement to buy wearable tech firm Fitbit for a staggering US$2.1 billion. The acquisition now seems to have entered in final stages and is being reviewed by regulators in multiple jurisdictions.
Alphabet continues to advance on AI, Cloud computing, Healthcare, and Advertising in emerging markets including India and China.
Facebook Foraying into Tapping Emerging Markets, Joins India’s Digital Revolution
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is a Menlo Park, California based Social media and networking giant which holds substantial market share across space through its major acquisitions Instagram and WhatsApp.
Ever since the acquisition of Oculus VR in 2014, Facebook had been pumping in money to develop the technology further on. Facebook in February 2020 announced acquisition of Sanzaru Games, a game maker for the Oculus virtual reality platform. The love of Mark Zuckerberg for VR is widely known, and the behemoth is focused on progress aggressively in the trending segment.
In mid-May 2020, Facebook announced its plans to acquire Giphy, an animated gif search engine and platform provider for US$400 million. Though the acquisition is still not complete, the synergy of Giphy to Facebook and its other platforms makes it an ideal choice for purchase.
Facebook in April 2020 announced an investment of US$5.7 billion for a 9.99% stake in the Jio Platforms Limited, a part of the Reliance Industries Limited. Reliance is led by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani who forayed into telecommunications and proved to be disruptive in the sub-continent through its offerings and prices. Jio provides 2 GB data of usage to each of its users for less than $3 a month at 4G speeds. So far, investment into Jio is pegged at more than US$37 billion, but JIO platforms is not just a telecom company in the second most populous country, Jio also includes the recently launched JioMart, an ecommerce website which is planning a pan-India rollout soon.
An investment into Jio allows Facebook to synergise with Reliance on building an environment of apps which includes a digital payment service, e-commerce and many more. Well, the possibilities are endless, and the level of integration of these two giants will decide the story of India’s digital revolution.
While the global pandemic is plaguing the world economies, the technology giants are investing aggressively to ensure in promising avenues of growth and disruptive technologies of the future.