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Apple's new M&A strategy

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Innovate or die: that’s the rule most successful Silicon Valley companies live by. Sitting pretty in the cutthroat tech world means becoming a lame duck company and eventually going the way of Gateway or Compaq.

Google (GOOG) and Amazon (AMZN) take this idea to heart—they develop self-driving cars and drones that drop your packages at your front door. Apple (AAPL), however, has fallen stale. There are only so many iterations of the iPhone that can be released before people start calling for bigger changes. The company that changed the way Americans consume music and popularized the smartphone needs to do something big and soon.

Related: Sony stumbles: So why should Apple be worried?

Enter Adrian Perica, a former U.S. Army officer and former Goldman Sachs investment banker, who heads up Apple’s Mergers and Acquisitions team.

Traditionally, Apple has preferred to develop new technology in-house. Steve Jobs was afraid to fold other companies into Apple’s strong and unique culture and rarely acquired companies—when he did they were very small. But this is no longer Steve Jobs’ Apple and without his creative vision and leadership the company has faltered. For a company with a lot of cash (nearly $160 billion), acquisitions start to make sense.

Related: Is Apple Plotting Against Your Old iPhone to Make You Buy a New One?

Perica has been traveling the globe for the past 18 months, taking meetings with executives in various industry’s to talk M&A. According to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle, Apple is looking to expand its business outside of consumer electronics.

The Chronicle claims that Perica even took a meeting with Elon Musk to discuss the possible acquisition of Tesla (TSLA) last spring. Apple is also looking into sensor technology that could predict and prevent heart attacks.

Apple obviously wants to expand and take big risks; the company spent $525 million on M&A deals last quarter, nearly double what it spent in the previous four quarters combined.

Related: Is Google more innovative than Apple?

“What I worry about from Apple,” says Yahoo Finance’s Jeff Macke, “is that they come out with a ton of mediocre products. It would be nice if they become more Google-esque but the downside is that they become more Sony-esque where they just make a bunch of crud and throw it in the marketplace."

If Apple doesn’t release a new and innovative product by late April, says Macke, the stock will be in trouble.

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