Apple Buys a Machine-Learning Startup For a Reported $200 Million

August 8, 2016, 10:48 AM UTC
Photograph by Johannes Eiseler—AFP/Getty Images

Apple has bought a machine-learning startup called Turi in a deal reported to be worth around $200 million.

According to Geekwire, which first reported the quiet acquisition, Apple (AAPL) is promising to boost Turi’s presence in Seattle.

Machine learning is the red hot field where computers are trained to be able to learn new things from data and make predictions—it’s integral to everything from spam filtering to helping autonomous vehicles recognize the world around them. If true artificial intelligence develops, machine learning will be its foundation.

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Turi, the tagline for which is “Create intelligence,” provides a machine-learning platform with tools to help other developers embed its capabilities into their own applications.

It has quite a focus on marketing, touting its platform as ideal for helping organizations analyse customer sentiment, predict churn and figure out likely click-through rates.

The company was until recently known as Dato, but had to change its name due to a trademark dispute with Datto, a data backup startup.

Turi’s blog has mysteriously disappeared from its website. Apple generally does not comment on its smaller startup acquisitions, other than to say it buys them “from time to time” and doesn’t discuss why.

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That said, machine learning is as valuable to Apple as to competitors such as Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB), with the technology theoretically being useful for everything from making Siri smarter to aiding Apple’s fabled car project.

Apple last year bought another AI-related company called Perceptio, likely for its image-classification skills, an a British firm called VocalIQ whose technology could help Apple’s intelligent assistant efforts.

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