A great article in the NY Times about how Apple could acquire some new assets with that pile of cash they are sitting on…$117billion worth of cash that is. Some interesting and great ideas. A couple I would argue should be Apple’s list:
- Netflix – I have said this in the past that Netflix would be a good asset for Apple. The NY Times article has them on the “outside” of the list. However for $6b (2x market value), Apple would get the perfect content library to add to their iTunes store. This would be a strong asset to add as they battle with Amazon for content. They could also leverage this content library into the Apple TV service.
- Barnes and Nobles – Holy Brick and Mortar batman…yes…there were rumors that Apple had sniffed around B&N. Here is why it would make sense. The Nook. You call me crazy, but the Nook is the perfect foil to go after the Kindle and the Google Tablet. Apple would not “dilute” the iPad but offering a smaller version of the Apple tablet. Instead Apple would get right into the 7in screen tablet market. Incorporate the content library from B&N as well as getting all those locations and Apple now has another channel. The Barnes and Nobles stores would also allow Apple to have another distribution channel – maybe even close the music sections and have iTune distribution via the store wifi. I am sure Apple could get the book store for a cool billion…chump change for Apple.
- Nintendo – What is missing from Apple offerings that Microsoft and Sony have? Game console. I realize this might be a stretch. But the one area many of these firms are still battling for is the home entertainment hub. Apple is trying to get in there with the Apple TV, but that is one product that has not taken off. Nintendo has the Wii, which revolutionized gaming and moved away from the static button controller to using motion. Apple has that as well with the iPhone, iPod and iPad. Could there be some synergies between those and the Wii console? Why not? Granted the price tag could be steep – $11b + but that is less than 10% of what Apple has on hand!
- Yahoo! – Okay okay, they internet giant just hired one of Google’s stars, so why would they look to be acquired now? Because everyone has a price! An acquisition of Yahoo! could become the platform for Apple’s social platform. Yahoo has a number of assets – IM, email, content, Flikr, to name a few, that with some Apple magic dust might live up to their potentials.
Just some thoughts on which toys Apple could add to their arsenal. Much hinges on the direction Apple wants to take – make a greater play in corporate? stress social? add content sources? They have plenty of cash to take on multiple avenues. But as history has taught us, no matter how much cash you have if you cannot focus and do not keep your eye on the goal you will eventually slip up.
Apple is currently in lofty company. Hopefully they use their cash wisely to maintain this stature.
I have been thinking about the Microsoft – Skype deal and started thinking, who else could be a target for the tech elephants? Obviously Google was rebuffed in its attempts to acquire Groupon. First the ground rules, the big elephants: Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, everyone else is a “target.” So here are some thoughts:
- Apple will go after Netflix and will integrate the asset into iTunes as well as look to revitalize Apple TV. Amazon is rumored to be starting a streaming video service and with the Kindle and the rumor of Amazon pushing out a new tablet, Apple will want to stay ahead of that curve. Apple will also be able to hardwire NetFlix into the iPhone or iPad…maybe even come out with a dumb down version of the iPad which is a streaming device for iTunes and Netflix.
- Facebook will purchase Yahoo! The one time tech elephant has seen itself be downgraded to a “has been” in the tech world – by the way of AOL. I know that Facebook has announced that it will have an email service, but why not just acquire it via Yahoo! For all their issues, Yahoo still has very strong email service. Add to this the assets such as Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Messenger, and Facebook would have a valuable asset to partner with their existing assets to continue to challenge Google.
- Amazon will look to acquire a location based service such as 4square. The location based service has added some specials to their check ins allowing them to sneak into the Groupon space. But why would they be a good fit for Amazon? Because Amazon is the world’s biggest online retailer. Since we, well some of us, go to Amazon to purchase a whole host of products why not combine your online shopping trends with where you are going in the real world. This might sound like a privacy nightmare, but for Amazon the ability to match the two trends would be a gold mine when it comes to advertising and promotions. Amazon also provides the eCommerce engine for many smaller vendors, what about this idea: you check in via 4square to a location, there is a special for a product, if you purchase and show your check in you get a discount or if you want you can jump to the Amazon site to see if you can have it shipped…or even price shop. Retailers might not like that but they will like the ability to target clients.
- Google will look to acquire Hulu to add the network streaming service to YouTube. They will create a Hulu landing page on YouTube, add that regular content to YouTube giving it some structure on top of it self created content. Google should look to create more formal channels on YouTube while not taking away from the power of YouTube’s self created content. Google might also think about acquiring AOL, why? AOL has bee quietly reinventing itself and acquiring social marketing assets as well. Google would get a portfolio of social assets in one simple purchase.
Just some thoughts on which dominos could fall next. Who do you think is the next target?
Apple’s iPad has been nothing short of a phenomenal success, but why should that surprise us after the iPod and the iPhone, the latter thrusting Apple from a zero market share to being one of the major players in the smart phone business. The iPad is expected to potentially surpass 12 million units sold in 2010 and double that in 2011. Apple’s tablet computing device has already had a drastic impact on the sale of more traditional computing platforms – laptops. None of this is too shocking.
Apple has earned the mantle of the “cool” device company, the one that has simple to use, powerful, flexible and sleek hardware devices coupled with a content distribution network – iTunes and AppStore. Put all these together and the consumer will naturally gravitate to your product when their alternative is the old Windows style offering.
What I have come to appreciate with my iPad…and I am someone who waffled on the iPad – first I wanted one, then I thought it wasn’t something I needed, eventually purchased one and now love it. But what the iPad has become is not a web surfing device, not a replacement for my laptop to do computing but a wonder entertainment device. I realize that might encompass so of what I just mentioned. The iPad has allowed, or pushed, television viewing to be an individual outlet. The television has always been a communal activity. Granted, I realize that some of us watch hours of television alone, but at its core it is for a group of people to aggregate around: watch a movie, the World Cup finals, the evening news, the season finale of Survivor or the launch of the space shuttle just to name a few activities.
What the iPad has brought is the ability to take this experience and truly allow the individual to control and enjoy it on their own. The form factor is much more personal, you sit at your desk and watch a movie, lie in bed and watch the last tv series or while in the airplane catch up on an iTunes movie from last season. The ability to truly personalize the selection and viewing of movies and television has finally been truly unleashed thanks to the iPad and other personal tablets.
While all the apps are great, and the form factor is basically a iPhone/iPod Touch on steriods, the iPad and its form factor is more adaptable to the visual nature of video. That might be its greatest app. Now if I could only get real time streaming television to my iPad….