Apple swallows AI start-up Turi for $200 million

Purchase could help Siri and Apple's driverless car

Apple has snapped up a machine learning start-up from Seattle, with potential implications for many of the company's product areas.

Turi, which builds AI and machine learning toolkits for other applications, was reportedly acquired for around $200 million, according to a Geekwire report.

"Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time," the company told Geekwire, "and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

The purchase could have numerous applications across the whole of Apple's portfolio. The most obvious use would be in making Siri, Apple's digital assistant, smarter. Apple has opened up Siri's SDK to developers and integrated the feature into MacOS, indicating that the company has big plans for its virtual secretary.

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However, it could also be used to offer more intelligent recommendations in Apple's music, movie, books and app stores, or to power the autonomous navigation in its widely-rumoured self-driving car.

Buy-outs of this nature are far from unusual for the Cupertino-based firm. "We generally acquire a company every three to four weeks on average," CEO Tim Cook told CNBC earlier this year. "And so it's a rare month that there's not a company being bought."

The company's latest quarterly earnings call also indicated that Apple is making significant use of AI-based tools, with Cook stating that "we have focused our AI efforts on the features that best enhance the customer experience".

Last year, the company snapped up two AI firms, Perceptio and VocalIQ, within four days of each other, both of which were reportedly rolled into Siri's functionality.

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