By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
September 20, 2010

Its acquisition of a tiny Swedish company is typical for Apple.

The $45.8 billion in cash and marketable securities that Apple (AAPL) reported in June is  not burning a hole in its corporate pocket. On Monday, our colleague Seth Weintraub spotted a Norwegian media report that Apple had gobbled up a small Swedish company called Polar Rose.

Polar Rose has some nifty face recognition algorithms — demonstrated below the fold on a Google (GOOG) Android phone — that look like they might complement either Apple’s iPhoto software or its Facetime video calling service.

Apple is reported to have paid $29 million for the 15-person company — typical of the kind of small, targeted acquisitions the company likes to make. It’s a drop in the bucket compared with the $2.35 billion Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) just spent to acquire 3Par, an enterprise storage company. HP’s outlay — driven up by a bidding war with Dell (DELL) — represented nearly 10% of its $24.29 billion cash reserve.

Below: The Polar Rose demo.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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