Two more Apple acquisitions have reportedly been unearthed today by 9to5Mac. The first is of Catch, a note-taking app similar to Evernote that was likely acquired back in July, and the second is BroadMap. The BroadMap acquisition seems more complicated, however, as the company maintains that it still exists and operates separately from Apple, despite much of its staff having moved to Apple according to their LinkedIn profiles.
Apple issued a statement to AllThingsD, but it only contains its boilerplate response to these requests, which is essentially a non-committal ‘we make acquisitions but we don’t talk about them’ comment. Ordinarily, that’s enough to consider the acquisition confirmed: Apple generaly won’t discuss anything at all in cases where there’s smoke but no fire. But this time, BroadMap took the unusual tack of denying an acquisition outright via its official Twitter profile (since removed).
Still, at least seven former BroadMap employees now list Apple as their employer on LinkedIn, and all departed the company around March of 2013. So what’s the deal? It looks like this may have been a case where Apple acqui-hired without the “acqui.” According to Geographic Information Systems specialist and blogger James Fee, BroadMap did indeed lose both executive talent and IP to Apple, but it continues to exist as a separate entity, licensing the tech it sold Apple and reselling that to current clients, which include Nokia, Nielsen, MapQuest and others according to BroadMap’s website.
My theory in this case is that BroadMap had a number of longer-term existing contracts in place with clients that would’ve made termination of those deals expensive and messy for Apple. Better to gut the company of its talent, keep BroadMap alive in name only as a delivery vehicle for tech that Apple now owns but licenses, and keep it staffed with a skeleton crew to make that happen (with new developments around geo software from the team that built it going directly to Apple, without a requirement to share). In other words, it’s an acquisition in practice, even if it ultimately turns out that it isn’t technically an acquisition.
As for Catch, 9to5Mac says it’s working on iOS software. Its app resembles Google Keep, and if Apple is looking to build out better functionality in Reminders, Notes and its audio recording apps, this is likely a good team to have in pursuit of that goal. Catch also released an enterprise collaboration tool just before shutting down, which could help Apple with its relatively new push toward greater business market appeal.
We’re still looking for more specifics related to these deals and will update if we find any additional information.