The 10 Smartest Tech Acquisitions Of 2010

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Rather than letting its cash just sit around growing mould, just about every major tech company made big acquisitions last year.

However! Not every company made a smart acquisition.

What’s a smart acquisition? Generally speaking, it’s the right company at the right price, bringing in technology or talent to improve your core product.

So who made the best moves in 2010?

10. HP's Palm acquisition could be brilliant ...

... or it could be a flop. But, HP only paid $1.2 billion for Palm. It's worth it to take a chance on a good operating system and free HP of waiting for Microsoft to make a good tablet operating system.

9. Groupon's acquisition of CityDeal was one of the best it made last year, says CEO Andrew Mason

Groupon is very active on the M&A front. When we asked CEO Andrew Mason which of the many startups they've bought stood out he answered CityDeal. Why? 'We picked up some of the most talented entrepreneurs I've ever met.'

8. AOL's acquisition of Thing Labs is just what it needed to breathe life into AIM

One of AOL's most valuable products is also one of its most neglected. AIM has languished over the years. Thing Labs was brought in to freshen it up. Since AOL probably didn't pay much, we think it is a pretty smart deal.

7. Google's purchase of BumpTop looks like it's already paying off

BumpTop made 3D interfaces for desktop computing. Based on what we've seen from the Android tablet running Honeycomb, it looks like the technology is already paying off for Google.

6. AOL buying TechCrunch is the exact right move

AOL wants to become the Time Inc. of the 21st century. Buying TechCrunch is a smart way to achieve that goal. TechCrunch is one of the best tech blogs in the world.

5. Amazon bought its competition by getting

BusinessWeek wrote a big feature about with the headline 'What Amazon Fears Most: Diapers.' A few weeks later Amazon bought So what's it scared of now?

4. Microsoft's acquisition of Canesta was a smart defensive move

Kinect is arguably the most exciting product to come out of Microsoft in a long time. To protect itself, Microsoft bought Canesta, a small Silicon Valley company armed with patents related to motion based technology.

We also hear the Canesta technology is great and it will make the next version of Kinect even better.

3. Google closed the AdMob deal and solidified its mobile ad lead

Yes, Google lost many of the employees at AdMob. And yes, Google overpaid for AdMob to keep it away from Apple. But, so what? It gained one of the most important mobile display companies in the world.

2. Twitter bought Atebits and brought in a great designer

Twitter's decision to buy Loren Brichter's Atebits, helped make its iPhone, iPad, and Mac applications world class. Before it brought Brichter on board it didn't even have an official iPhone app.

1. RIM's acquisition of QNX is the reason people are optimistic about the PlayBook

Research In Motion bought QNX, a software division of Harman International, in April. The QNX team is already making a huge impact creating software for RIM's PlayBook tablet, which looks promising. QNX is also platform of the future for the BlackBerry phone lineup.

What did we get wrong?

We assume not everyone agrees with our list ... let us know what's missing in the comments!

Apple's not on the list, but it had a pretty good year, too ...

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