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Apple buys small chip maker, app developer

Apple Inc has acquired two small companies, a chip designer and personal assistant software maker, to bolster its advantage in the increasingly competitive mobile arena.

Apple, whose iPhone has been a huge hit since its launch in 2007, on Wednesday said it bought semiconductor company Intrinsity. It declined to say how much it paid for the Austin, Texas-based chipmaker, but media and analysts' reports say Apple spent roughly $120 million.

The acquisition first surfaced as a rumor several weeks ago.

According to a report in the New York Times, Intrinsity specializes in speedy processors for mobile devices.

Apple has shown a keen interest over the past few years in fast, low-power chips. It bought chip maker PA Semi in 2008. Apple designed its own A4 chip, which powers the iPad tablet.

Apple has also acquired Siri, whose smartphone application helps users accomplish tasks and find businesses while on the go. The deal was confirmed by a representative of Siri, but terms were not disclosed. The news first emerged on Business Insider.

Siri's “virtual personal assistant” responds to voice commands and is available for free on Apple's iPhone and iPod touch.

San Jose, California-based Siri was founded in 2007. Its investors include Menlo Ventures, Morgenthaler Ventures, The Li Ka Shing Foundation, and SRI International.

According to the company's website, Siri grew out of an artificial intelligence research project funded by a $150 million investment from the US Defense Department's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The acquisitions come ahead of this summer's expected launch of a new version of the iPhone. Apple sold about 8.75 million of the smartphones in the most recent quarter. (Reuters)