Apple Considering Foray Into Cars, Medical Devices

Tuesday, 18 Feb 2014 08:53 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Technology giant Apple is laying the groundwork to transition beyond consumer electronics with ambitious plans to break into the automobile and medical devices industries, despite a broad market view that the company's ambitions have been centered around wearable technology.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Apple's head of mergers and acquisitions, Adrian Perica, met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk last spring around the same time analysts were predicting Apple might acquire the electric car company.

"Apple must increasingly rely on new products to reignite growth beyond the vision" of late founder Steve Jobs, said Bill Kreher, an analyst with Edward Jones Investments based in St. Louis, according to the Chronicle. "They need the next big thing."

Analysts say it is unclear what Tesla might gain from a possible Apple takeover.

"They'd get access to deep pockets, but Tesla's got access to Wall Street right now," Andrea James, an analyst for Dougherty & Co. investment bank, told the Chronicle. "I could see a partnership more than a takeout."

The companies already share some notable commonalities, according to the Chronicle. Both have built brands on advanced engineering and user-friendly design, and each company has become an emblem of Silicon Valley innovation. A possible partnership could see an Apple touch-screen installed on Tesla's dashboard, some predict.

In the field of medical technology, the Chronicle reports that Apple has been heavily exploring sensor technology that could help predict heart attacks, and has been hiring healthcare professionals.

In December, a high-level Apple team met with FDA chief Dr. Margaret Hamburg and Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, who oversees agency approval for medical devices, to discuss "mobile medical applications," according to FDA records, the Chronicle reports.

Since 2009, Apple has accelerated the pace of its acquisitions, perhaps in anticipation of the slowdown of sales in smartphones and tablets, along with the escalating competition with Android-based mobile devices.

It has been aggressive in its takeovers of the most cutting-edge Internet technology, such as search engines, data analysts, mapping software and motion-tracking chips.

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