When you’re as big as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) are in the consumer electronics industry, you’re always looking to expand and always on the lookout for the next big thing. This can really give analysts and  market observers the opportunity to foresee the future direction of the tech market. For example, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s recent acquisition of the virtual reality helmet producing company, Oculus VR, for $2 billion indicates that its overseer Mark Zuckerberg clearly expects this to make a massive impression when it launches on PS4.

Apple Dr Dre Beats

It’s hardly surprising then that the world’s most significant consumer electronics manufacturer has made its fair share of acquisitions. Over the last couple of years, Apple has been busy picking up a number of smaller companies in an attempt to strengthen its position at the top of the worldwide technology market. And among these purchases, it’s possible to notice certain patterns that give a clue as to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s future.

Apple’s vehicular focus

A couple of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s 2013 acquisitions show that the company is thinking clearly about a vehicle-related future. Apple has already been in talks with the electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), and is also extremely enthusiastic about its in-car CarPlay system.

In accordance with this, in March, 2013, Apple acquired WiFiSlam. This is a an indoor GPS system which enables a smartphone to pinpoint its location in real time up to 2.5 meters in accuracy. While there are many applications for this software, it is thought that there may be a vehicle-related motivation for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s purchase of the brand.

Additionally, just months later Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) acquired HopStop.com. This is an online city transit guide offering door-to-door subway and bus directions and maps for over 140 cities around the world using its website. Formerly an Android application, HopStop.com now operates exclusively on iOS platforms, with the company dropping all support for Windows Phones. It is interesting that Apple considered this such a valuable opportunity, and perhaps indicates that the company will be getting involved with transport a good deal more in the future.

Other interesting acquisitions over the last 24 months have included PrimeSense, which provides 3D motion sensor technology, and Topsy Labs, a purveyor of social media data analytics. But all of these purchases have been a precursor to a mind-blowing deal which has taken place over the last 24 hours.

$3.2 billion Beats purchase

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has shelled out a whopping $3.2 billion to purchase Beats; the headphone manufacturing company. There has been a lot of media speculation regarding why Apple has been willing to splurge such a vast amount of cash on Beats, but there seems to be a two-pronged motivation for it.

Firstly, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) looks to be attempting to recharge its cool image by associating itself with a product that has a lot of street cred. This could be a particularly valuable strategy at a time when music services such as Spotify are becoming massively popular with key demographic groups. Secondly, Apple infamously has billions of dollars burning a hole in its back pocket, and probably feels that a few billion spent purchasing Beats is putting this to good use.

The iPod was a key part of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s renaissance, and the company is emphasizing its musical credentials once again with this acquisition.