That's less than any other year in the Tim Cook era. (Median M&A spending: $1 billion.)
From a note to Above Avalon subscribers posted Wednesday:
My suspicion is that 2021 was a quiet M&A year for Apple given where the company finds itself from a product pipeline perspective. For the better part of the past five years, Apple’s mixed reality/AR plans have been the catalyst behind approximately 20% of Apple’s M&A deals. Apple’s foray into face wearables is now right around the corner - so close that the company likely has the main ingredients to get a V1 and V2 out the door without the need for additional M&A. Meanwhile, long-term R&D projects like Project Titan are still too far away to lead to a sudden M&A rush. Over the past five years, only three Apple acquisitions can be tied to its automotive ambitions.
We can’t underestimate another factor behind Apple’s quiet M&A year - Apple is doubling down on its long-held M&A philosophy. Apple does not use M&A to acquire revenue, users, or even products. Instead, Apple uses M&A as a tool to acquire talent and technology. There is a very simple thought process behind this philosophy. Apple feels that the product development processes already in place within the company lead to the best products capable of delivering premium experiences. Management is not interested in circumventing these proven processes by acquiring established products that have already gone through another company’s development process phase. Instead, Apple is looking to fill talent and technology holes that may become apparent during the product development process.
My take: I don't know nothin' about the timing of any face wearables, but Cybart's emphasis on Apple's home-grown development processes is right on target. I think of Apple, like Pixar, as a company with processes that only makes hits.
Click to enlarge the chart: