Apple buys search company and chip maker as Steve Jobs attacks Flash again

Tech giant Apple has continued its string of acquisitions, purchasing a personal assistant software maker and a chip manufacturer as it attempts to defend its ground as the leading player in the smartphone market.

But the acquisitions have come as chief executive Steve Jobs has spoken out against software maker Adobe, blaming the company’s Flash plugin program as the main reason for Mac computer failures.

The first acquisition is the purchase of Siri, a San Jose-based mobile application developer best known for its products that allow users to perform voice-activated searches using their smartphones.

While the acquisition has not been confirmed by the company, one Siri board member has reportedly said the deal is going ahead, without disclosing a sale figure. Shawn Carolan, managing director at Menlo Ventures, told Information Week that the deal had to be “very compelling” for the Siri board to agree.

Siri has managed to gain $24 million from investment partners, including Chinese billionaire Li Ka-Shing who also holds a share in Facebook.

Some analysts have said Apple will eventually want to offer some type of new search product similar to Google’s service on the iPhone. The actual Siri management team also contains experts on artificial intelligence, with the company’s products originally developed by funding from the research and development branch of the US military, DARPA.

Meanwhile, Apple has also spent a reported $US120 million on semiconductor manufacturer Intrinsity, which specialises in processers for mobile gadgets. It comes after Apple has spent significant amounts of time and money into funding its own manufacturing process, with the company’s own A4 chip powering the new iPad device.

Additionally, chief executive Steve Jobs has taken the last few days to make another statement in regards to the controversy with software maker Adobe. The two companies have been squabbling publically regarding Apple’s refusal to allow developers to use the Flash plugin on the iPhone.

“Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content,” Jobs said in the open letter, posted on Apple’s website.

“Another Adobe claim is that Apple devices cannot play Flash games. This is true. Fortunately, there are over 50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and many of them are free.”

Some critics have said the iPad and iPhone devices lack usability without Flash support, as many prominent and popular websites use the plugin for displaying graphics and advertisements.

However, Jobs has said Flash would actually bog down the iPhone experience, labelling it as one of the major reasons Mac users experience difficulties when browsing.

“Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009. We also know first-hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. We have been working with Adobe to fix these problems, but they have persisted for several years now.”

“Most Flash websites will need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices. If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?”

Jobs also said the company has been “painfully slow” to adopt enhancements to Apple products, and said the company is not catching up to the post-PC era of “touch interfaces and open web standards”.

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