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You'd never know it, but Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) has been on a buying spree lately. Of course, Apple doesn't announce its acquisitions unless it absolutely has to, such as when it acquired publicly traded fingerprint sensor specialist AuthenTec last year for $356 million. Avoiding disclosure is just another reason why the company prefers the small, specialized purchase to the big, flashy one.

CEO Tim Cook recently spoke at the D: All Things Digital conference, and dropped an interesting tidbit about the company's recent acquisition pace. Before this fiscal year, Apple would typically pick up a new company every 60 to 75 days, which would translate into roughly six purchases per year. Apple has already about nine companies this fiscal year, which started in October.

The only one of these that's been confirmed has been WifiSLAM, an indoor GPS start-up that uses Wi-Fi signals to pinpoint location. That pick up only reportedly cost $20 million, well below the disclosure radar.

Cook specifically said that Apple did not bid for Waze, the crowd-sourced traffic data aggregator that's been all the craze lately. Apple, Facebook, and Google have all been reportedly interested in buying Waze. That possible deal makes some sense for the social network or search giant, but the $1 billion that Waze is reportedly looking for puts it out of the Mac maker's sweet spot.

Investors can only speculate as to what other eight small companies Apple has acquired over the past eight months. It's likely that Apple is quietly buying companies to bolster its controversial Maps service. Cook noted that Apple believes mapping and location are extremely important going forward, which is why management is "investing as much as we are." He also acknowledged that Maps is still incomplete, noting that it's been greatly improved but that it's "not there yet." Those comments hint that Apple may be buying companies to improve Maps.

Services are also another key area where Apple lags the competition. Two rumored upcoming services are payments or online music streaming, so Apple could be scooping up smaller players in these realms to integrate into its inevitable offerings.

Even though Apple's been on a buying frenzy, those purchases haven't put a dent in its cash balance yet.

There's a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.

Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (32)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2013, at 5:09 PM, jvgfool wrote:

    Finger print reader? They are a bit late to the game aren't they? Pocket PCs had those.

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2013, at 6:27 PM, UgolinoII wrote:

    They made the same mistake in the mobile phone market, between Nokia and BB they never stood a chance ;)

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2013, at 8:04 PM, erniemink wrote:

    Apple, GO AWAY..FOREVER. Smart people buy Microsoft! Apple SUCKS SUCKS SUCKS SUCKS!! Internet Explorer 10 BEAT HANDS DOWN all other browser COMBINED! I use Windows 8 Professional 64-bit. Get it, update it, use it, explore. Use the Windows 8 phone, such as the Nokia Lumina 925 that BEAT HANDS DOWN the Apple iphone (All models). Xbox One finally is beating back the illegal copyright infringers..YAY FOR THAT!

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2013, at 1:02 AM, wla755 wrote:


    If you like to be the beta tester who pays for the opportunity to use Microsoft's latest breakthrough the joke's on you.

    It can be like the Apple map fiasco everyday.

    An update a day and you still want to pay?!

  • Report this Comment On June 09, 2013, at 1:47 PM, stewlish wrote:

    erniemink, what planet are you from???? Microsoft... Really?

  • Report this Comment On June 09, 2013, at 2:18 PM, stewlish wrote:

    Smart people?

    Creative people need a Mac! You must be an accountant! Yes, I think they ARE rather smart... in a manner of speaking.

  • Report this Comment On June 10, 2013, at 8:07 AM, mikecart1 wrote:

    erniemink is obviously kidding. :)

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