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What should Apple purchase with its $158-billion?

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What should Apple buy with its $158-billion cash?

    With Apple’s $3-billion purchase of Beats Electronics, many analysts are suggesting Apple’s next purchases.

    I have collected some of the suggestions out on the internet, but before we reveal the recommended buys, let’s briefly visit the critivism of the actual purchase.

mediocre headphones

    Apple CEO Tim Cook said that this matches Apple’s focus on music and that the partnership would help Apple “continue to create the most innovative music products and services in the world.”

    Lisa Eadicicco of Business Insider replied, “However, anyone who knows a thing or two about headphones knows that Beats’ line of premium devices aren’t that great.” and suggested that “Apple is likely more interested in Beats’ recently launched streaming service, which has received generally positive reveiws since it was unveiled earleir this year.”

    Time compiled a list of reviews of headphones that ranked Beats as the second worst of 18 headphone brands. CNET and PCMag didn’t even bother to include Beats headphones in their top pick roundups.

    World News Network said “Apple just paid $3 Billion for a company that makes really mediocre headphones.”

    Dino Londis of Invests.com: “Last April Tim Cook promised “amazing new hardware and software this fall.” Apple launched none. He also said back in 2012 that Apple was readying “products that will blow your mind.”
    “It’s been years since Apple released a transformational new product. Not counting CarPlay for the wealthy, the last major release was the downsized iPad.”

    Dan Frommer of Quartz: “Up to now, Apple has mostly bought companies you’ve probably never heard of for their technology, talent, or intellectual property. They include Quattro Wireless, a mobile-advertising firm that built the iAd business; Chomp, an App Store search tool; and the engineering team behind Color, a failed mobile app. What Apple hasn’t historically done is buy well-known firms for their existing brands, products, or audiences—unlike, say, Google’s YouTube acquisition, Facebook’s Instagram purchase, or Yahoo’s Tumblr deal. Perhaps, in part, that’s been because Apple had more than enough world-changing products in its own pipeline, and preferred to invent internally.
    “But it’s been fashionable for a while now to say Apple’s innovation engine has run out of steam, or is at least in a lull of sorts. If Beats isn’t a one-off but signals a shift in CEO Tim Cook’s strategy, there are more deals worth considering—other strong products worth building around, not just integrating. And Apple has the cash to buy any or all of these companies without blinking.”

better purchases

    Everyone (well, maybe not everyone, it just feels like that) has open season on how Apple really should have spent their money.

    Here is a round-up of some of the suggestions that have been made. Note that some of these suggestions were published before the Beats acquisition.

Social Media:
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, AND Pinterest

    Seth Fiegerman of Business Insider: “Do you remember Ping, Apple’s attempt at social networking?
    “Don’t worry, nobody else does either.
    “If Apple really wants to make headway in the social networking space, the company could afford to buy Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter — or all three together.
    “Facebook values itself at roughly $75 billion, LinkedIn’s current market cap is just north of $11 billion, Twitter is valued around $10 billion depending on who you ask, and the most generous estimates place Pinterest at around $7 billion.”

    Lee Hower of Fortune: “Buy A Social Platform. Facebook ($63B mkt cap) is the only one that makes sense to me from a strategic standpoint. Twitter doesn’t really give the same depth of strategic synergy and LinkedIn (LNKD) is ruled out, because Apple is a consumer company rather than business-centric. But even though Apple could offer Facebook (FB) shareholders a 100% premium over the current stock price, obviously this one is never going to happen given Mark Zuckerberg’s voting control of the company.”

    You will see these companies named again.

Hollywood:
Time Warner, Viacom, Dreamworks, and Disney

    Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch: “ “Kill Hollywood,” is the latest battle cry from Silicon Valley. If you are Paul Graham, that’s not a bad way to motivate young would-be founders to create new startups.
    “But what if you are Apple, … looking for the next industry to overturn to keep fueling your growth? There aren’t that many new markets out there that can make a difference to Apple at this point. Hollywood is one of them. If you are Apple, however, you don’t want to kill Hollywood. You want to buy it.
    “Think about it for a second. Today, Apple could literally buy Time Warner ($38 billion market cap), Viacom ($29 billion), and Dreamworks ($1.6 billion) combined, and still have $30 billion left over. If it waits a few more quarters it could snap up News Corp ($49 billion) as well. Only Disney, which is worth $70 billion, would take a while longer to save up for.
    “But it is very unlikely Apple would just snap up all the major media companies. It would be a post-acquisition mess, not to mention the antitrust issues it would raise. No, all Apple needs to do is take a few billion dollars of that cash and start licensing the rights to stream first-run TV shows and movies. It could easily compete with cable. It needs to compete with cable if it truly wants to build a TV replacement.”

    You will see these companies named again.

the list

Adobe:

    Ed Oswald of BetaNews: “It’s no secret that Adobe’s been a thorn in Apple’s side for several years now. One popular way to get rid of that issue is a buyout. After all, creatives worldwide use Adobe’s programs predominantly on Mac, so why not have Apple developing those apps? They could always deliver them over the Mac App Store then…”

Akamai:

    Larry Dignan of ZDNet: “Apple needs a content delivery network to deliver its content and services. Akamai or Limelight offers that expertise. Akamai’s market cap is just under $10 billion.”

    Jason Perlow of ZDNet: “As the company grows, it’s going to need to expand its content distribution infrastructure. That means in order to get things like huge, bandwidth-hungry HD movies downloaded to iTunes or even streamed directly to Apple TVs and iPads, it is going to have to get that content in close proximity to the ISPs that provide broadband service to consumers as well to the Tier 1 providers that provide backhaul services to wireless carriers that sell the iPhone and iPad 3G worldwide.
    “Apple will need to spend a considerable amount of money connecting these datacenters to the ISPs with high-speed links and possibly even replicate some of that data globally so that the most popular or in-demand content doesn’t overload the centralized infrastructure.
    “Content Distribution Networks, or CDNs, can solve these problems. Apple could build its own global CDN, or it could purchase an existing CDN, such as Limelight Networks (LLNW) or even Akamai (AKAM). Limelight is currently capitalized at about $347M and Akamai, which is considered the leader in the space, is hovering around a whopping $5.64B.
    “Both of which should be considered a bargain since that’s about half of what they were capitalized at two years ago.”

Amazon:

    Seth Fiegerman of Business Insider: “It’s hard to think of any two tech companies with more different operating philosophies, and harder still to see any scenario in which Jeff Bezos would be willing to sell Amazon.
    “However, consider all the perks Apple would gain from owning Amazon — complete domination of the tablet market as well as the market for digital media, not to mention a fleet of incredibly powerful servers.”

American Express:

    Kyle Davis of Kyle Davis Group has avery long blog about why Americna Express and Apple are perfect for each other. It is an older article, but still worht reading.

ARM Holdings:

    Larry Dignan of ZDNet: “Apple could gain some serious supply chain heft with the purchase of ARM — especially from a patent and intellectual property perspective. ARM’s IP powers the mobile processing ecosystem and has a market cap just shy of $22 billion. Qualcomm would also be a fit, but a market cap of $135 billion or so would be tough to digest.”

    Jason Perlow of ZDNet: “For the entire mobile and consumer device industry, an Apple purchase of ARM Holdings (ARMH) would be an absolute nightmare. For Apple, it would allow them to have exclusive rights to the company’s technology roadmap and control the licensing of a key embedded systems technology that sits at the core of many consumer electronics products.
    “Once the licensee terms ran out, Apple could easily terminate the architectual licenses of companies it views as its competitive enemies, and then the major mobile players like Google, Microsoft, Samsung, HTC, LG, RIM, Texas Instruments, Freescale, Marvell, nVidia, Qualcomm and dozens of others would be out in the cold if Tim Cook decided he wanted any of them to go away.
    “And we all know that his predecessor, Steve Jobs, made no bones about wanting to "Go Thermonuclear" on anyone who made Android handsets and tablets.
    “This is all assuming, of course, if any of these players didn’t have perpetual license agreements in play, in which case Apple would be obligated to permit those players to continue to manufacture ARM-based chips, depending on the IP of which chip architectures they had access to.
    “Still, the architectural platform which powers the core of just about every smartphone device and SOHO routers and numerous other consumer electronics products would be under Apple’s total control.”

Best Buy:

    Seth Fiegerman of Business Insider: “If Apple wanted to expand its retail business, or just put competitors out of business, it could easily afford to buy out Best Buy and Radio Shack. Best Buy’s current market cap is ~$7.7 billion and Radio Shack’s is ~$515 million. For good measure, it could throw in Target too, whose market cap is ~$38.7 billion.”

    Ed Oswald of BetaNews: “The retailer and Apple already have a strong relationship through the Apple store-within-a-store program. Apple could expand its reach well beyond its company-owned stores with the purchase of a retailer like Best Buy. But why would it want to do this and sell the wares of its competitors? Or Windows PCs? Perish the thought!”

BitCloud:

    Justin O’Connell of Bitcoinomics: “ “We want to replace YouTube, Dropbox, Facebook, Spotify, ISPs, and more with decentralized apps based on proof of bandwidth,” stated Bitcloud, which aims to be a distributed autonomous corporation that hopes to “decentralize the current internet” so it can “create a new internet to replace it”.
    “That might sound high-fallutin’, but it is a sign of the times in which we live. Technology is changing everyday and in big and meaningful ways. Life is exciting. And the internet is going to look completely different in 5-10 years, in large part thanks to bitcoin.”

BitCoin:

    Justin O’Connell of Bitcoinomics: “One of the main philosophies of Steve Jobs was to keep Apple’s “powder dry.” That is, Jobs liked having a lot of cash on hand. But buying other companies is not the only option Apple has with that grip of cash.
    “Bitcoin has been around for the last 5 years and it has caught the attention of the world. Many people think bitcoin and think of something controversial, if not illegal almost. But the truth is, bitcoin is simply technology, and a technology that has changed the world already.
    “Buy obtaining bitcoins, Apple would merely be taking stock in a new technology. It would be like holding cash, but with much more volatility. The upside potential, however, could turn Apple into the biggest company on the planet. And all they would have to do is spend a small amount of their fortune on the bitcoins. It would also fit in with their philosophy to keep funds outside the US banking system.”

BitPay:

    Justin O’Connell of Bitcoinomics: “Bitpay just struck it big with another $30 million investment after having Peter Thiel climb onboard earlier.
    “According to its website, BitPay will join CoinBase as a payment processor with zero fees. Currently, Coinbase is using the model towards a merchants’ first one million sales, after which merchants will pay 1% fees. BitPay’s new model, however, asks for $30 per month per merchant, with zero additional fees. This is unprecedented in payment processing space, and will certainly send shockwaves through various payment processing spaces.
    “Both BitPay and Coinbase represent the world’s first zero-fee payment processors, driving home how revolutionary modern payment methods are.
    “This certainly must make leading credit card companies nervous, considering their 3% fees and history of high fee debacles:
    “In July 2012, Visa, MasterCard and several major banks agreed to pay U.S. retailers a record $7.25 billion in penalties to settle a long-lasted lawsuit alleging the card giants conspired to fix so-called “swipe fees” paid by shops and supermarkets.
    “Swipe fees are levied on retailers for using their cards for each transaction. The fee is deducted by the card’s issuing bank.”

Bittunes:

    Justin O’Connell of Bitcoinomics: “Apple obviously is interested in getting into the online music market, symbolized by its purchase of Beats Electronics. But, if it wants to be out in front of the future of the music industry, it must look to the decentralized mediums such as many of the aforementioned businesses.
    “The vision for this project is about using the best aspects of peer-to-peer file-sharing technology often rightly called ‘super distribution’, and fusing that with the latest technology in digital payment systems, to radically change the way the technology has been applied so that ordinary people actually earn money by becoming the new distribution channel for digital music. In this way, Bittunes deals directly with the Music Piracy problem, with a carrot not a stick, rewarding artists fairly, and allowing users to potentially earn 5-10x profits on song purchases. To achieve this will not be easy, but the end result could be nothing short of revolutionary.
    “If Apple truthfully wishes to get into the music space, then something along these lines is clearly the answer.”

Boingo:

    Larry Dignan of ZDNet: “Wouldn’t it be nice if Apple could provide free Wi-Fi to every customer? Sure would and Boingo could be had for a bit north of $245 million.”

Cisco:

    Matthew Kanterman of Forbes: “Currently, Cisco has a market cap of $112.13 billion, making it ripe to be taken out by the behemoth that is Apple. Apple could integrate the switches business as well as the other smaller businesses into its model and make Apple a one-stop shop for computer and networking services.
    “Also, Cisco has been a consistent dividend payer and could increase Apple’s cash flow to shareholders.”

Comcast:

    Nick Bolton of New York Times shares reader suggestions that cam as a result of his original article: “Several readers suggested that Apple buy a media company. … Another reader said Apple could buy Comcast, also for the content. “For today’s market cap of $127.3 billion, they could own the largest cable TV provider, a broadband provider, a TV network and a movie studio,” wrote a reader from Chicago.”

    Lee Hower of Fortune: “Buy Pipes. Many have thought that communications infrastructure would become “dumb pipes,” and the content and/or hardware companies would win home “infotainment.” Pipes companies are still pretty valuable it turns out, and on-demand video hasn’t really eroded that. You still need cable or fiber to your home to watch Netflix, and it’s not like total revenue to the “cable” companies (Comcast (CMCSA), Time Warner Cable (TWI), Verizon Fios (VZ), etc.) has really declined. Plus, building out a telecom network to the home is pretty hard and costly … there’s a reason Google Fiber (GOOG) is available in precisely 1 of the top 100 U.S. cities. The satellite TV guys (DirecTV (DTV), Dish Network (DISH)) have good pay TV businesses and nationwide coverage but lack true broadband Internet offerings, so they wouldn’t be a fit.
    “Owning pipes and the content deals that go with them could strategically aid Apple in a couple ways. First, the iPhone was such a profitable success for Apple because it got to double dip — consumers paid Apple, and wireless carriers paid Apple (in the form of subsidies) for each device. No matter how awesome an Apple TV might be, it’s difficult to envision a similar scenario where cable companies subsidized the cost. By the time the iPhone came out, there were three or four wireless carriers with national scale so it made sense for AT&T™ to do an exclusive with Apple, but cable still tends to be a local duopoly or even monopoly so less incentive to try to shift consumer share.
    “But if Apple owned one of the big cable companies, it essentially could boost the profitability of TVs by internally subsidizing with monthly subscription revenue. Apple also would instantly get access to a huge swath of TV and movie content. Plus if they bought Comcast ($106B mkt cap) it’s essentially a twofer of #1 (content production) and #2 (pipes) now that Comcast has fully acquired NBC Universal.”

cure for cancer:

    Nick Bolton of New York Times shares reader suggestions that cam as a result of his original article: “Some readers said that Apple and other tech giants with huge cash reserves should do more to help social causes.
    “ “I have no doubt that Google, Apple and Microsoft employ some of the best and the brightest people that money can hire,” wrote a reader from New York City. “Why not divert some of that talent and some of that excess cash in a joint effort to find a cure for cancer?” ”

Dell:

    Seth Fiegerman of Business Insider: “Apple has added $29 billion to its cash pile just in the last six months, which is slightly more than Dell's current market cap. It would be a fitting end given Michael Dell’s infamous comment in 1997 that Apple should sell the company and give the cash back to shareholders.
    “Don’t get your hopes up though, Michael Dell. We doubt Apple would go for it.”

Disney:

    Michael Grothaus of Know Your Mobile: “Both Netflix and Amazon are now both their own production studios and as the future of entertainment looks like it’s going to continue to move in the direction of content distributors making their own content, Apple will eventually need to get into the content creation game as well. Buying Disney — who they already have a great relationship with — would ensure they get the talent to make, and licensing rights for, some of the hottest properties on the planet including Star Wars, Marvel, Indiana Jones, and Pixar — not to mention ABC and the rest of Disney’s catalogue.”

    Dino Londis of Invests.com: “I’ve heard this one for a while and it’s starting to make sense. Disney and Jobs did have a working relationship when Pixar made animated movies for Disney. Both companies like to say that they are in the “magic” business. Netflix and Amazon have proven that additional revenue streams can be generated by creating, not just distributing, content. Apple TV made $1 billion last year. All of Disney’s existing and future content would be accessible from its own media channel. This is a leap, only because it’s not a direct tie-in to tech.”

    Nick Bolton of New York Times shares reader suggestions that cam as a result of his original article: “Several readers suggested that Apple buy a media company. … Gary Tsarsis, a visiting professor of finance at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, said that there are similarities between Apple and Disney, both of which are seeking to expand the distribution of content, and the two companies should explore merging.
    “ “If the inherent interest of the corporation is to maximize shareholder value, then for Apple, they should be using the vast amount of cash that they have on their balance sheet for profit-seeking opportunities,” Mr. Tsarsis said in an email. “The money, at best, is getting minimal interest in the Netherlands, Ireland, etc. and becomes a drag on growth when not being used.” ”

    Lee Hower of Fortune: “Apple could buy Walt Disney Co. (DIS) instead (~$98B mkt cap) and own a vast library of content and the “infrastructure” to develop more (ABC/ESPN, movie studios, etc.). It would probably divest theme parks, but the rest of Disney would give Apple an incredible platform to rethink video at home in an on-demand world. It also would transform the company by making meaningful profits on content in addition to hardware. Time Warner (TWX) would be the other logical choice in this vector.”

Dropbox:

    Note that Apple, Google, Facebook, and others have all repeatedly attempted to purchase Dropbox.

    Marcus Wohlsen of Wired: “Famously, Dropbox co-founder and CEO Drew Houston once turned down an offer from Steve Jobs. After Houston refused, Apple went on to launch iCloud. A few years later, it’s clear who won that fight. Now valued at about $10 billion after its latest funding round, Dropbox is building a 250,000-square-foot campus in the heart of San Francisco. If Apple wanted to cut its losses, it could drop iCloud altogether and simply replace it with Dropbox. In the process, Apple could own the all-pervasive data layer Dropbox hopes to create — and give consumers one more reason to pick iOS over Android.”

    Michael Grothaus of Know Your Mobile: “Why? Because iCloud sucks. Dropbox does EVERYTHING right with regards to cloud computing. It’s the easiest freaking system for syncing files between devices. Seriously, it just works wonderfully. iCloud document sharing is the exact opposite of that. Apple needs to buy Dropbox before someone else does.”

    Dino Londis of Invests.com: “Apple found a way to nip at the heels of the enterprise with the iPhone and iPad. It essentially invented Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and employees began bringing their own devices into enterprises which were strictly Microsoft shops. It was such a threat to Microsoft that it gave birth to the Microsoft Surface.
    “Dropbox has done the same with storage. Businesses once kept strict control on storage and document control. Then Dropbox and others turned user storage on its head. And now riding a wave of what I call “enterprisation” of consumer services — where products are first proven outside the enterprise are then adopted within — Dropbox is making a move to be a storage and service provider inside the enterprise. A smart buy for Apple.”

    Bruce Kennedy of Yahoo Finance: “The second company on [Marc] Andreessen’s list, Dropbox — a cloud-based service that allows users to store and share their files via any internet connection — is busy preparing for its IPO.
    “With its private market value reportedly up to $10 billion and over 275 million claimed users, industry observers say Dropbox is ready for primetime in the business world. Apple made an unsuccessful attempt to purchase Dropbox in 2009. At the time, Dropbox co-founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi reportedly turned down Steve Jobs’ offer. However, “Apple could still afford to buy Dropbox,” tech columnist Jon Nathanson recently wrote in Slate, “and it should probably try.””

    Dan Frommer of Quartz: “The real promise of mobile computing is having your entire digital existence available at all times, from anywhere. That’s pretty much Google’s entire strategy, and it ought to be central to Apple’s too. Yet iCloud, the last product Steve Jobs introduced, is still a disappointment—good luck even storing all of your photos there, the sort of no-brainer feature that should ship with every Apple device. So Apple should buy Dropbox—arguably the best personal cloud storage service in the business, at least among those not owned by Google—make it the real iCloud, and install Dropbox CEO Drew Houston as its head of cloud services. The main question is whether Houston would even want that job, when Dropbox seems so soundly set to remain independent and grow into one of tech’s leading platform companies.
    “Estimated price: $20+ billion, if it’s for sale at all. Dropbox recently raised capital at a $10 billion valuation.”

eBay:

    Matthew Kanterman of Forbes: “Apple already has the iTunes store, its own App store, and the Apple store for purchasing Apple products. Imagine if Apple could go one step further and allow customers to bid on products, services, or apps in an auction style, making much more efficient markets.
    “Buying the online retailer with a market cap of $72.72 billion would also give access to the Paypal service for Apple, which has been hugely profitable for eBay.”

    Michael Grothaus of Know Your Mobile: “Which brings me to Square and PayPal. Apple should buy one of these companies as they know how to do mobile transactions right. Currently Apple has a massive database of hundreds of millions of credit cards through the iTunes Store. But taking card payments through a dedicated store is one thing. Extending that ability to allow customers to buy anything they want in the real world is another. Acquiring PayPal or Square and combining it with Mint would go a long way to making the best mobile payment offering on the planet.”

    Dave Lee of BBC: “Apple should use its enormous cash reserves to make some big-name acquisitions, the company’s former boss John Sculley has said.
    “He said it could shift the “whole landscape of e-commerce” if it bought, for example, eBay.
    “He said it should ignore the wishes of activist investor Carl Icahn, who wants the company to buy back stock.
    “ “Apple's about building great products, building and shaping markets,” Mr Sculley said.
    “ “Carl Icahn has suggested to [Apple chief executive] Tim Cook, ‘Why don’t you buy more stock back or make a bigger dividend?’
    “ “I’d rather see Apple continue to invest in building… even make big acquisitions that were strategic, as opposed to buying more stock back, or giving more dividends.”
    “Mr Sculley was the chief executive of Apple between 1983 and 1993.
    “During his tenure, he famously engineered the “forcing out” of Steve Jobs from the company - a decision he later said was due to his own inexperience in appreciating Mr Jobs’ vision for future products.
    “"Apple’s never been an acquirer of big companies before, and when you look at the [Apple digital ticket system] Passbook, and fingerprint recognition - what would it mean if Apple went out and bought eBay?
    “And they had PayPal, and integrated that?
    “ “My guess is you’d suddenly see the whole landscape of e-commerce shift.
    “ “You have Amazon, which is on the fast-track to dominate every aspect of e-commerce - suddenly the game, the landscape, would change.” ”

Facebook:

    Seth Fiegerman of Business Insider: “If Apple really wants to make headway in the social networking space, the company could afford to buy Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter — or all three together.”

    Jason Perlow of ZDNet: “As much as it drives me crazy, FaceBook is the hottest company right now next to Apple itself. And with over 800 million users sharing data and communicating, it makes it among the most desirable, if not the most desirable audience for Apple to integrate its products with.
    “This has become something of a hassle of late, as in 2010 Apple tried to launch its own pseudo-social network with iTunes version 10 in the form of Ping, which was supposed to have FaceBook connectivity at launch date but issues with last-minute negotiations apparently caused Apple to have to pull that feature from the software.
    “If the companies couldn’t come to some sort of agreement, Apple could certainly go head to head with FaceBook, by hiring away its top talent, and built an Apple Social Network, which I’m tentatively calling “iFriends”.”

FedEx:

    Marcus Wohlsen of Wired: “Worth a little more than $40 billion on the New York Stock Exchange at the moment, FedEx would take a much bigger chunk out of Apple’s cash reserves. But it’s not out of the question. Apple’s hardware makes it one of the world’s most ubiquitous digital platforms. FedEx would give Apple an analogous presence in the physical world. Put another way: Apple’s products are one of the most commonplace ways the world consumes bits. With FedEx, Apple becomes the way the world also moves atoms.”

Fitbit:

    Killian Bell of Cult of Mac: “Rumor has it Apple’s upcoming “iWatch” will focus heavily on fitness tracking, so what better way to give the product a head start than by adding Fitbit’s already-terrific technology to the mix? The company offers a range of trackers that record everything from your morning walk to the quality of your sleep — and all them work wonderfully alongside iOS.
    “Add an LCD display, some custom-built iOS apps and an aluminum design lovingly crafted by Jony Ive, and you’re onto a winner. What’s more, with a market cap at just $300 million, acquiring Fitbit wouldn’t even scratch the surface of Apple’s bank balance.”

Genesis Coin:

    Justin O’Connell of Bitcoinomics: “GenesisCoin has developed a multi-featured bitcoin ATM. “Genesis Coin Inc. provides hardware and software solutions for digital currency markets, with plans to deploy 100 Bitcoin ATMs around the world by the third quarter of 2014.”
    “Genesis Coin Inc. provides hardware and software solutions for digital currency markets, with plans to deploy 100 Bitcoin ATMs around the world by the third quarter of 2014.
    “The company is one of the more silent BitcoinATM companies, but has one of the more solid models.”

GeoEye:

    Jason Perlow of ZDNet: “Anyone who uses an iPhone or an iPad with 3G and GPS capabilities will tell you that much of the functionality that you get from some of the best apps for these devices come from geolocation and mapping services. …
    “Apple should also consider launching its very own mapping satellite in partnership with one of the major geospatial companies, such as GeoEye, DigitalGlobe and Spot Image, and a major Aerospace company such as Orbital Sciences, Boeing Space and Intelligence or Lockheed-Martin Space Systems.
    “What does it cost to launch and operate one of these things?
    “Well, a lot of money. …
    “It should also be noted that the GeoEye company (GEOY) that provides the mapping services in partnership with Google and the United States government currently has a market capitalization of about $486M right now (about half of what the company was worth two years ago) so the company might not be a bad acquisition target for Apple either.
    “The iSat-1. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?”

GoPro:

    Marcus Wohlsen of Wired: “Amazingly, just as smartphones were becoming the default way people took and shared photos and videos, GoPro established itself as the next great camera brand. By focusing on durability and very specific use cases — a camera you could mount on the tip of your surfboard — GoPro paradoxically pioneered the category of affordable high-definition video anywhere. With each new model release, the iPhone is getting closer. But with one relatively inexpensive acquisition — GoPro is valued at about $2.5 billion as it prepares to go public — Apple could launch an iPhone-GoPro hybrid and have its own camcorder on the market in a matter of months.”

HERE:

    Killian Bell of Cult of Mac: “While Apple’s own Maps platform has been vastly improved since it made its debut alongside iOS 6, there’s still a lot of work to be done — particularly for users outside of the U.S., who are still reporting inaccurate data and incomplete maps. Apple could change that by snapping up HERE from Nokia.
    “Launched in 2007 — the year the original iPhone made its debut — HERE is already available in almost 200 countries, and it offers a bunch of features Apple Maps does not. It also powers major mapping services like Yahoo! Maps, Bing and MapQuest, and it’s widely regarded as one of the best mapping services there is.”

    Dino Londis of Invests.com: “Not quite as sexy, but a necessary buy would be Here. Here is a maps service which is owned by Nokia/Microsoft.
    “Although Apple has been working hard to improve its map service, the acquisition of Here would add more than 5,700 employees to work on maps. Here lost money last year but it has rich sets of data that could go a long way to improve Apple Maps, especially now that CarPlay is moving into high-end automobiles.
    “Mark Rogowsky makes a strong argument that a sale by Nokia/Microsoft to Apple would benefit both companies.”

Hulu:

    Seth Fiegerman of Business Insider: “Apple could easily control the entertainment media landscape by purchasing Hulu or Netflix, or both. Rumor has it that Hulu is currently valued at $2 billion and Netflix’s market cap is ~$4.5 billion. That’s nothing for Apple at this point.”

Hungary:

    Lee Hower of Fortune: “I had read somewhere that Apple’s cash pile was equivalent to Hungary’s GDP so perhaps an activist shareholder should push an acquisition of Hungary rather than thinking small (e.g., increasing dividends or issuing preferred stock).
    “Hungary probably wouldn’t sell its sovereignty and entire economy for 1x sales, but Apple (AAPL) has no debt, so they could probably lever the deal and borrow money on top of $137 billion in equity. For some reason, the notion of Apple hiking the taxes of Hungary to fund a dividend recap just amuses me …”

Intel:

    Matthew Kanterman of Forbes: “Vertical integration would be the theme if Apple were to buy Intel, the chip maker with a market cap of $104.58 billion. This purchase makes a lot of sense because Intel has patents on production processes for chips that allows it to make better chips than some of its competitors.
    “Should Apple purchase Intel, it could design its own chips that would optimize performance in all of its products and it would also allow Apple to profit from competitors devices through sales of chips to other companies.”

Jawbone:

    Marcus Wohlsen of Wired: “Of all the possible acquisitions Apple could make, San Francisco-based hardware designer Jawbone is the most obvious fit. Its Jambox wireless speaker and Up fitness band almost exceed Apple’s talent for minimalism: there are hardly any buttons at all. At the same time, its devices have an approachable, human quality that Apple sometimes strains to match. With Nest off the table, Jawbone is the next-most-obvious option for Apple to leap forward in wearables and internet of things-connected devices.”

    Dino Londis of Invests.com: “Valued at $3 billion, Jawbone devices share many of the minimalist characteristics of Apple products. It has brought a kind of successful products to market that Apple has not: devices without screens. All of Apple’s rumored and current products use a screen for interaction. It would not be hard to fit these products into its lineup because there is so little overlap. It also buys into Jawbone’s innovation.”

Leap Motion:

    Dino Londis of Invests.com: “Depending on the review you read, Leap Motion is either the next big thing or a great idea that doesn’t work. Leap Motion is a way to for users to communicate with their PC without touching it. Think Xbox Kinect. You wave your hand and switch screens, launch apps, play games, surf the web and so on. Like the mouse and touch screen, Leap Motion is possibly the next big step in user interface. Combined with Siri, it would greatly reduce physical contact with your MacBook Air.
    “The limitations of Leap Motion and the reason why it’s often said to be inferior to Kinect are simply related to the fact that it’s underpowered. But a purchase by Apple combined with a beefing up of the hardware and Leap Motion could be licensed to all PC and even TV manufacturers.”

    Killian Bell of Cult of Mac: “Apple has said it doesn’t like the idea of bringing a touchscreen to the Mac, but what about adding motion controls with Leap Motion? The company’s Leap Motion Controller is already changing the way people control apps and games on their Macs, and it could be even more powerful with Apple behind it.
    “In some ways, the tiny Leap Motion Controller is like Microsoft’s Kinect. But with the ability to track 10 fingers up to 1/100th of a millimeter, Leap boasts the world’s most accurate gesture-tracking technology, and it can do so much more when combined with a desktop.
    “Apple is already trying to wean us off the mouse with its Magic Trackpad and gesture controls in OS X, but with Leap Motion, there’s no need for either.”

Limelight:

    Larry Dignan of ZDNet: “Apple needs a content delivery network to deliver its content and services. Akamai or Limelight offers that expertise.”

    Jason Perlow of ZDNet: “As the company grows, it’s going to need to expand its content distribution infrastructure. That means in order to get things like huge, bandwidth-hungry HD movies downloaded to iTunes or even streamed directly to Apple TVs and iPads, it is going to have to get that content in close proximity to the ISPs that provide broadband service to consumers as well to the Tier 1 providers that provide backhaul services to wireless carriers that sell the iPhone and iPad 3G worldwide.
    “Apple will need to spend a considerable amount of money connecting these datacenters to the ISPs with high-speed links and possibly even replicate some of that data globally so that the most popular or in-demand content doesn’t overload the centralized infrastructure.
    “Content Distribution Networks, or CDNs, can solve these problems. Apple could build its own global CDN, or it could purchase an existing CDN, such as Limelight Networks (LLNW) or even Akamai (AKAM). Limelight is currently capitalized at about $347M and Akamai, which is considered the leader in the space, is hovering around a whopping $5.64B.
    “Both of which should be considered a bargain since that’s about half of what they were capitalized at two years ago.”

LinkedIn:

    Seth Fiegerman of Business Insider: “If Apple really wants to make headway in the social networking space, the company could afford to buy Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter — or all three together.”

    Jason Perlow of ZDNet: “Apple should consider going the professional network route, and throw some cash at LinkedIn, which in 2008 was valued at about $1B. Apple could probably snatch up the whole thing for around twice that today, if not significantly less. And unlike a fresh Social Network that Apple would have to build from scratch, it already comes with a strong user base.
    “That might actually allow the company to make some serious inroads with the enterprise and business crowd, which may still have reasons to be tied to their uncool BlackBerries and may see a business networking advantage integrated into their smartphones and tablets as a reason to switch to Apple’s platform.”

Lockheed Martin:

    Ed Oswald of BetaNews: “We stuck this one in here for pure fun. Lockheed Martin is the darling of the defense industry and has some pretty valuable defense contracts with the US Government. At a market cap of about $25.7 billion, with a little maneuvering Apple could definitely afford it, even at the premium. Imagine the bombs that the company could build with the help of the designers in Cupertino…”

Luxembourg:

    Marcus Wohlsen of Wired: “OK, it’s not a company. It’s a country. But think about the possibilities. Luxembourg is a European financial center. It has a track record of innovation (Skype). Plus castles. With a GDP of a little more than $57 billion in 2012, Luxembourg would be the most expensive acquisition on this list, though still well within Apple’s price range. With Tim Cook as president and Jony Ive as Minister of Design, everything in this new Apple nation-state would “just work.” Just don’t ever try to fix anything yourself.
    “Yes, our tongue is firmly in cheek. But when you consider the economy of a place like Luxembourg, it shows you just how much money Apple has in the bank. $160 billion isn’t just a number. It’s three times the GDP of a small but prosperous European country.”

Mars:

    Nick Bilton of New York Times: “Compared to Google, Apple seems to be focused on the here and now rather than the far-off future. (Google is building autonomous robots and cars.)
    “Apple could leapfrog its competitors and go all in, picking up Mars. (Yes, the planet.) NASA scientists recently said a human mission to Mars with the goal of building a colony would cost about $160 billion. NASA even floated the idea that big corporations could sponsor the trip.”

Microsoft:

    Larry Dignan of ZDNet: “And bonus deal: Apple should team up with Microsoft on cloud service delivery. Amazon is an enemy. Google is a foe. Microsoft and Apple are actually good partners. A deal with Apple and Azure would be a next-gen version of the Microsoft Office bailout in Apple’s darkest day.”

    Jason Perlow of ZDNet: “With the strained and cantankerous relationship that Apple and Steve Jobs has now put itself in with Google, it would behoove them to become as independent as possible when it comes to the key services that it needs to offer the core functionality that makes “The Apps for That” actually work. That includes not only Search capabilities — which it should probably consider building its own engine or perhaps partnering with — GASP! — Microsoft and its Bing! service…#148;

Mint:

    Michael Grothaus of Know Your Mobile: “Mint is actually part of Intuit now (Intuit bought Mint a few years ago). And while not many in the UK are familiar with Mint (because it doesn’t support UK banks), it is the holy grail of how to make online financial management effortless and easy.
    “Mint is a financial data aggregation service. You enter all your bank accounts, mortgage accounts, other loans, even your Paypal account, and it gives you a complete real-time overview of where your money is and where it’s going.
    “I know, I know. Apple isn’t in the finance business.
    “For long.
    “But the company is bound to release a mobile payment system sooner or later and, if Maps is anything to go by, they just can’t jump into new territory without acquiring the experience and talent needed for such a move. With Mint they would get the perfect blend of technical knowhow and a beautiful UI and UX to go with it.”

Motorola Mobility:

    Seth Fiegerman of Business Insider: “Apple’s $12.5 billion cash haul last quarter would be enough to cover what Google agreed to pay for Motorola Mobility.
    “It wouldn’t make any sense at all — the last thing Apple needs is a rival phone maker and it’s got plenty of patents in the mobile space — but it’s fun to think about.”

Netflix:

    Seth Fiegerman of Business Insider: “Apple could easily control the entertainment media landscape by purchasing Hulu or Netflix, or both. Rumor has it that Hulu is currently valued at $2 billion and Netflix’s market cap is ~$4.5 billion. That’s nothing for Apple at this point.”

    Michael Grothaus of Know Your Mobile: “Look, I’m throwing Netflix in here because everyone always says Apple needs to buy Netflix. They actually don’t — but I can see why people say they do. Apple needs to get into the streaming movie business. That’s where the future of filmed entertainment is heading.
    “I’m saying the company doesn’t need to buy Netflix because Apple already has an awesome film content delivery system through iTunes. It’s dead simple to rent or buy a movie. But fewer and fewer people are renting and buying individual movies…they’re streaming them.
    “I’m of the contention that Apple will unveil a movie streaming service in the next 24 months — iTunes Radio was probably a warm-up to that. However, if they need some extra incentive, dropping $50 billion on something might light a fire under their ass to get it done sooner rather than later.”

    Ed Oswald of BetaNews: “The idea of an Apple-owned Netflix probably makes the most sense out of the three we’ve listed so far. With the power of Apple behind it, Netflix’s streaming offerings would probably get better (Apple has a lot of pull in the entertainment industry just because of its size), and a combined entity would have a ton of power (and customers). Then again, the industry hates both companies so you never know.”

    Lee Hower of Fortune: “Some people think Apple should buy Netflix (NFLX). On paper it makes sense: $10 billion market cap, deals with lots of content owners, a nascent library of Netflix developed content and a happy/loyal consumer base. But it makes less sense to me. Consumers love Netflix because they can get it on all kinds of hardware devices (TVs from many makers, game consoles, tablets, etc.) and content owners deal with Netflix because they don’t want iTunes to dominate digital video as it has digital music.”

Nokia:

    Larry Dignan of ZDNet: “Didn’t Microsoft buy Nokia? Well yes and no. Microsoft bought the handset business, but Nokia includes a mapping and geolocation unit. Guess what Apple needs to improve? Mapping. Apple could spin off the Nokia networking business.”

Nuance Communications:

    Larry Dignan of ZDNet: “Nuance is a leader in voice recognition technology and the company is rumored to be a takeout target for Google. The search giant could integrate Nuance throughout its portfolio of products. Apple could do the same and figure Nuance is a twofer: A technology company that brings a strong business and intellectual property. The extra perk would be Apple blocking Google from acquiring that voice technology. Nuance’s market cap is just north of $5 billion so wouldn’t even dent Apple’s balance sheet.”

    Michael Grothaus of Know Your Mobile: “If Apple buys Wolfram Alpha they could use its tech with another company’s tech they license, Nuance, and make Siri resemble JARVIS from Iron Man. Nuance makes the Dragon Dictation software for most major operating systems, and they’ve been in the speech to text game longer than almost anyone. Apple uses Nuance speech recognition technology in Siri, but by buying the company they could bring it in-house and, again, throw money at it to bring speech recognition into the 21st century.”

    Leo Sun of The Motley Fool: “There could be huge implications for the health care industry if this happens, as it is already a major consumer of Apple’s iPads and Nuance’s voice-recognition software in electronic health records, or EHRs.
    “Would Apple buying Nuance actually make sense for either company, though? Let’s take a look at the facts and figures fueling these rumors.
    “The medical electronic records industry is in dire need of interface simplification and performance enhancement. Apple’s history and technologies is such that Apple is uniquely qualified to do just that. Buying Nuance would give Apple the additional underlying technologies it needs and access to the customers without having to “reinvent the wheel”.
    “The medical electronic records industry is growing rapidly and will be growing even more rapidly as the requirements of Obamacare take hold.”

Open Garden:

    Justin O’Connell of Bitcoinomics: “Open Garden, Inc. is a free, closed source mobile application for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. It enables peer-to-peer mobile internet connection sharing with faster data transmissions by automatically and actively choosing and switching to the best available network. Open Garden promotes open wireless networks and is a member of the Open Wireless Coalition, which was founded by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
    “This technology naturally scares mobile carriers. AT&T requested that Google Play block its customers access to Open Garden. A spokesperson stated that Open Garden violates company policies by enabling unauthorized tethering and mobile connection sharing. Open Garden’s founder and CEO, Micha Benoliel, stated this was a lie, and that his company does not do anything illegal.
    “By entering into the space of decentralized internet carriers, Apple could become the gatekeeper of the internet, above all other telecom companies, if it should use to use its power in such a way. Decentralized solutions are the wave of the future, current trends suggest.”

PayPal:

    Bruce Kennedy of Yahoo Finance: “Apple has reportedly been looking into an expanded mobile payment service for some time now, and according to the Wall Street Journal has also been preparing to compete against eBay’s PayPal division. “Mobile payments are big business,” notes The Register, “particularly for a company like Apple which boasts 575 million registered iTunes users.” And back in January, Carl Icahn told Time Magazine that Apple could be a “serious” suitor for a spun-off PayPal.”

    Michael Grothaus of Know Your Mobile: “Which brings me to Square and PayPal. Apple should buy one of these companies as they know how to do mobile transactions right. Currently Apple has a massive database of hundreds of millions of credit cards through the iTunes Store. But taking card payments through a dedicated store is one thing. Extending that ability to allow customers to buy anything they want in the real world is another. Acquiring PayPal or Square and combining it with Mint would go a long way to making the best mobile payment offering on the planet.”

Qualcomm:

    Matthew Kanterman of Forbes: “Apple could also look to buyout Qualcomm and expand into the wireless networking business. With Google’s secretive push into developing next generation wireless and wired networks, Apple could be forced to compete with its bitter rival by expanding into the business as well.
    “Currently, Qualcomm’s market cap is $110.6 billion, just large enough for Apple’s monstrous cash pile.”

Radio Shack:

    Seth Fiegerman of Business Insider: “If Apple wanted to expand its retail business, or just put competitors out of business, it could easily afford to buy out Best Buy and Radio Shack. Best Buy’s current market cap is ~$7.7 billion and Radio Shack’s is ~$515 million. For good measure, it could throw in Target too, whose market cap is ~$38.7 billion.”

Research in Motion:

    Ed Oswald of BetaNews: “Let’s face it, RIM is a company that’s in deep doo doo. Its market share continues to fall and it has next to no traction in the industry with consumers. Even its enterprise and corporate base is increasingly abandoning it in favor of the iOS and Android platforms. That said, RIM still does have a few valuable technologies that could help Apple in the enterprise sector. The question remains though, would acquiring a distressed company falling out of favor really be a good investment? I’d think not.”

SanDisk:

    Ed Oswald of BetaNews: “An acquisition on the level of SanDisk would give Apple leverage in the flash chip market. Increasing numbers of Apple products depend on flash memory chips, and it would no longer need to deal with competitors like Samsung. Then again, I doubt those companies would let something like this go through without a serious antitrust fight.”

Sharp:

    Larry Dignan of ZDNet: “Samsung’s secret sauce is vertical integration that allows the company to derive nice margins off commodity hardware. Sharp would bring screens, manufacturing and a TV entry.”

    Lee Hower of Fortune: “Vertically Integrate. Apple also could vertically integrate in more radical ways. I don’t mean buying Hon Hai (aka Foxconn) to control vast labor and production of Apple’s hardware. I mean component suppliers like Marvell (MRVL) ($5B mkt cap) or STMicroelectronics (STM) ($7B mkt cap) for chips, or Sharp ($3B mkt cap) or Toshiba for LCD displays, etc.”

Shazam:

    Larry Dignan of ZDNet: “Apple wants to be a cloud player yet has a few rough edges. Shazam takes a song and identifies you from its data centers in seconds. Shazam also drives music sales. Apple could add a key feature to its products and put itself in the middle of what could be a neat next-gen advertising play. After all, Shazam, which is valued at about $500 million, wants to do a lot more than music.”

Sonos:

    Killian Bell of Cult of Mac: “If Apple really wants to tackle home entertainment, it needs to give us more hardware compatible with the AirPlay platform. The Apple TV isn’t enough, and many third-party solutions aren’t as simple as they should be. Acquiring Sonos, creator of some of the finest wireless speakers money can buy, would be a great start.
    “Apple’s already synonymous with music thanks to iTunes and the iPod, and acquiring Sonos would give it the opportunity to quickly launch a range of Apple-branded speakers for every room in the home. They’d be ideal accessories not only for iPods and iOS devices, but also for the Mac and Apple TV.
    “Sonos speakers are already hugely popular, and the fast-growing company doubled its revenue to more than $500 million in 2013.”

Sony:

    Ed Oswald of BetaNews: “Sony’s fallen on some hard times. Whether it be the month-long outage of its PlayStation Network, or the apparent lax security of its web servers worldwide, it’s taken a toll on the company’s overall valuation. An acquisition here could teach the company how to make money again. But there’s absolutely no synergy at all between the two, and Apple’s cash would be better spent elsewhere.”

SoundCloud:

    Dan Frommer of Quartz: “iTunes is the world’s largest music store, and Beats Music—the small streaming service that Apple is buying along with Beats’ larger headphone business—may become Apple’s answer to Spotify, which is gaining traction. But unreleased—and indie—music is frequently posted on SoundCloud, earning it the moniker “YouTube for music.” Twitter was reportedly interested in buying SoundCloud but has since backed out; Apple (or Google) seems a better fit. And as SoundCloud takes more share in podcast hosting—not just music—Apple gets a potential replacement for its antiquated distribution system.
    “Estimated price: $1 billion, considering SoundCloud’s last funding round valued it at $700 million. The Wall Street Journal reports (paywall) that Twitter’s interest in SoundCloud faded because “the numbers didn’t add up.” A deal-thirsty Apple may be less sensitive.”

SpaceX:

    Marcus Wohlsen of Wired: “It’s not entirely clear what Apple would want to do in space, but that’s kind of the point of an ambitious acquisition. Space is one direction in which even Google hasn’t really moved yet (though Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has). But imagine Jony Ive unleashed on spacecraft. At the very least, imagine the marketing coup of a rocket launching into space with the Apple logo plastered on its side. Who’s not thinking about the future?”

Sprint:

    Jason Perlow of ZDNet: “In order for Apple to not have to deal with carrier mishegas in the US anymore, it probably makes sense for it to become a carrier itself. Obviously, there would be significant regulatory issues that the company would have to overcome, but it wouldn’t be impossible for Apple to do.
    “In terms of actual infrastructure costs of what would be needed to build a 4G network, the company would be looking at anywhere between 5 and 10 billion dollars to pull it off, depending on whether or not they needed to build new towers, could piggyback their transceivers on existing ones, what backhaul services they would need to buy, network operations centers needed, et cetera.
    “Of course, Apple could just go and buy a carrier that already does business in the US. The logical choice would be Sprint/Nextel (S), which is currently capitalized at approximately $6.4B and already has a significant customer base.”

    Nick Bilton of New York Times: “Why not just bypass the telecom companies? T-Mobile, which boasts the fastest Internet service on the planet, is currently worth about $26 billion, about 16 percent of Apple’s cash. Sprint is a little more expensive, with a market value of $37 billion. But Apple could pick up both and still have more than $90 billion left.”

    Matthew Panzarino of The Next Web: “Sprint … has an extensive 3G network and a growing WiMAX 4G network in the shape of Clearwire. … This would give [Apple] an extensive 3G network and a solid, if not expansive, 4G network. Unfortunately this would also bring a lot of baggage with it. First of all, Sprint isn’t exactly the spryest of the major networks and, aside from its unlimited offerings, has been falling behind technologically and monetarily since the merger with Nextel in 2005. Of course, Apple then has to cast off the cruft of the prepaid divisions including Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Assurance Wireless, not to mention the dozens of affiliate MVNO’s and the paleolithic iDEN PTT network. … The more exciting question is what happens if Apple decides to just go after the tasty fruit in the first place, buying Clearwire outright to build its own network from the ground up.”

Square:

    Marcus Wohlsen of Wired: “From Passbook to iBeacon to a recent patent for touchless checkout, Apple clearly believes money payments are an essential feature of its future phones. Instead of attempting to engineer payments from the bottom up, why not buy the most Apple-esque payments startup on the block? Square co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey shares Steve Jobs’ admiration for a design philosophy in which technology disappears into the background. From its sophisticated payments infrastructure to its copacetic corporate culture, Square would fit into Apple like its eponymous credit card reader into an iPhone headphone jack.”

    Killian Bell of Cult of Mac: “With a $5 billion valuation, Square, the mobile payments company led by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, is one of the most expensive companies on our list — but it could still be an incredible investment opportunity for Apple.
    “The Cupertino company has already begun dabbling in mobile payments with Passbook on iPhone, and Square’s infrastructure could be exactly what’s required to take it further. Its card readers could also give the iPad and other iOS devices a huge boost in the retail sector.”

    Seth Fiegerman of Business Insider: “Why not just buy Jack Dorsey’s entire portfolio and make him an exec at Apple? Square is currently seeking a round at a valuation around $[5] billion, according to reports.
    “While Twitter could help Apple step up its presence in social media, Square’s technology could give Apple an advantage in the mobile payment space.”

    Michael Grothaus of Know Your Mobile: “Which brings me to Square and PayPal. Apple should buy one of these companies as they know how to do mobile transactions right. Currently Apple has a massive database of hundreds of millions of credit cards through the iTunes Store. But taking card payments through a dedicated store is one thing. Extending that ability to allow customers to buy anything they want in the real world is another. Acquiring PayPal or Square and combining it with Mint would go a long way to making the best mobile payment offering on the planet.”

Starbucks:

    Matthew Panzarino of The Next Web: “Starbucks has over 8,800 company owned locations, not counting licensed stores. Apple had dealings with Starbucks in the past. You may remember the relatively unspectacular deal for free access to the iTunes Music Store for iPhone users. Every Starbucks location already has a WiFi router, sponsored by AT&T, that offers free access to the internet. This covers any iPhone user on AT&T within spitting distance of a Starbucks.
    “Apple could significantly expand this coverage by augmenting these Starbucks locations with WiMAX antennas powered by Clearwire.
    “This could be accomplished by a partnership or long-term leasing arrangement that would allow Apple time to expand Clearwire’s network out to cover more area. The main reason that Clearwire has had difficulty expanding its coverage is lack of funds. Fortunately this is one problem that Apple doesn’t have.
    “If Apple leveraged those funds to first use Starbucks locations as its own massive WiMAX hotspots, then build out the Clearwire network, it could have itself a data only carrier within a relatively short span.”

Symantec:

    Ed Oswald of BetaNews: “Apple has made its business out of poking fun at Windows users and their security problems. It could acquire a company like Symantec and make money off their woes, or maybe even get the company to start producing quality antivirus for Mac — it apparently now needs it! Again, there’s really no reason for Apple to acquire a company like this, and it would look kind of hypocritical don’t you think?”

Target:

    Marcus Wohlsen of Wired: “Back when Apple was just a fly buzzing around Microsoft’s big, nerdy head, it tried to distinguish itself through better design. Target has taken a similar approach against its main discount retail rival, Walmart. The rise of Amazon has complicated Target’s plans. If Apple came and swooped up the Minneapolis-based company — now worth about $36 billion — their combined forces could create a potential Amazon killer. Even Walmart might get a little nervous — imagine the selection and prices of Target combined with the cool factor of an Apple Store.”

    Marcus Wohlsen of Wired: “Back when Apple was just a fly buzzing around Microsoft’s big, nerdy head, it tried to distinguish itself through better design. Target has taken a similar approach against its main discount retail rival, Walmart. The rise of Amazon has complicated Target’s plans. If Apple came and swooped up the Minneapolis-based company — now worth about $36 billion — their combined forces could create a potential Amazon killer. Even Walmart might get a little nervous — imagine the selection and prices of Target combined with the cool factor of an Apple Store.”

    Seth Fiegerman of Business Insider also recommended that Apple purchase Target.

Telegram:

    Killian Bell of Cult of Mac: “Thanks largely to the National Security Agency, smartphone users are increasingly worried about snooping and keeping their personal data private when they communicate. By acquiring Telegram, Apple could make its already fantastic iMessage service even more secure.
    “Thanks to its multiple-data-center infrastructure and end-to-end encryption, Telegram promises to be not only super secure, but also the fastest messaging platform in the world. Users can send messages, photos, videos and other files, and everything that passes through Telegram’s servers is protected by stringent security standards.
    “The service is also growing incredibly quickly: When WhatsApp went down for just a few hours last month, Telegram added nearly 5 million new users.”

Tesla:

    Marcus Wohlsen of Wired: “The argument for Apple buying Tesla is pretty much sealed with one word: iCar. No company has done more to push innovation in the century-old horseless carriage category than the electric car company founded by one-time PayPal mafioso Elon Musk. If Apple wanted to give a whole new meaning to mobile hardware, it would cost just under $23 billion at Tesla’s current value on the NASDAQ.”

    Nick Bilton of New York Times: “If going from iPads to interplanetary missions seems like a stretch, maybe Apple could explore transportation on earth.
    “Last year Philip W. Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president for worldwide marketing, said that before the company built the iPhone, executives had discussed building a car.
    “Rather than start from scratch, Apple could take less than 20 percent of its cash and pick up Tesla for around $30 billion. Paint the cars white, slap on an Apple logo, dot an “i” before crossing the “t” — and you’ve got an entirely new product category: iTesla.”

    Bruce Kennedy of Yahoo Finance: “The blogosphere was very intrigued by reports that Adrian Perica, Apple’s M&A head, met with Telsa CEO Elon Musk last spring. Musk later confirmed the meeting in a Bloomberg TV interview, but said it was “very unlikely” his company would be for sale.
    “And while it may be hard to imagine the two corporate cultures ever meshing smoothly, there are some strong similarities.
    “ “Tesla is the first Silicon Valley car company,” The Monday Note blog noted last month, “great at design, robotics, and software. Like Apple, Tesla isn’t afraid to break with traditional distribution models.”
    “ “And, to top it off,” it continued, “Musk is a Steve Jobs-grade leader, innovator, and industry contrarian.” ”

    Dan Frommer of Quartz: “This is mostly in jest, but the electric car maker actually fits Apple’s profile very well: a vertically integrated, hardware-based business model, top technology and design, and the beginning of a global market—electric vehicles—poised to explode. You might also argue that many of Apple’s platforms and services (music, mapping, telephony) fit naturally in a car, and that only the deepest of partnerships could produce the best results. (Apple’s early integrations with other car makers have been underwhelming so far.) But does Tesla’s Elon Musk really want to work for someone else? And does Tim Cook dare violate everything Apple has ever said about focus? Probably not.
    “Estimated price: $30 billion—a 25% premium over Tesla’s enterprise value—might get the deal done. But this one’s admittedly unrealistic.”

Time Warner:

    Nick Bolton of New York Times shares reader suggestions that cam as a result of his original article: “Several readers suggested that Apple buy a media company. Mo from Los Angeles said the company should have purchased Time Warner, giving Apple a treasure trove of movies and television shows that could be distributed on the Apple TV, iPad and elsewhere.”

T-Mobile:

    Nick Bilton of New York Times: “Why not just bypass the telecom companies? T-Mobile, which boasts the fastest Internet service on the planet, is currently worth about $26 billion, about 16 percent of Apple’s cash. Sprint is a little more expensive, with a market value of $37 billion. But Apple could pick up both and still have more than $90 billion left.”

    Jason Perlow of ZDNet: “In order for Apple to not have to deal with carrier mishegas in the US anymore, it probably makes sense for it to become a carrier itself. Obviously, there would be significant regulatory issues that the company would have to overcome, but it wouldn’t be impossible for Apple to do.
    “In terms of actual infrastructure costs of what would be needed to build a 4G network, the company would be looking at anywhere between 5 and 10 billion dollars to pull it off, depending on whether or not they needed to build new towers, could piggyback their transceivers on existing ones, what backhaul services they would need to buy, network operations centers needed, et cetera.
    “Of course, Apple could just go and buy a carrier that already does business in the US. The logical choice would be Sprint/Nextel (S), which is currently capitalized at approximately $6.4B and already has a significant customer base.
    “The other carriers are way too big for the company to swallow. The next smallest would be T-Mobile USA, which is actually a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG (DTEGY.PK) a German-owned company.
    “Apple could certainly offer to take the US subsidiary off the company’s hands, and it may still even be attractive for Deutsche Telekom to dump the asset, as it tried and failed to do in its aborted $39B acquisition with AT&T, but given how painful it is to buy a telecom company of any substantial size without going through a huge regulatory approval ordeal, it’s unlikely Apple could complete the transaction, even though it could easily finance it all by itself.”

TSMC and/or Sharp:

    Larry Dignan of ZDNet: “Apple needs a fab. TSMC has the fabs. TSMC also provides instant scale and supply chain heft. Samsung’s secret sauce is vertical integration that allows the company to derive nice margins off commodity hardware. Sharp would bring screens, manufacturing and a TV entry.”

Twitter:

    Justin O’Connell of Bitcoinomics: “As mass political protests swept across Brazil in June 2013, Miguel Freitas followed the news on Twitter. Tweets revealed information quicker than the mainstream media and even blogs. “Brazilian media is highly concentrated,” says Freitas, an engineer based in Rio de Janeiro. “I have been able to read news that a lot of friends never heard about.”
    “Freitas likes Twitter, believing it promotes democracy and allows protests to be organized in places like Brazil and the Middle East. He became gravely concerned when Edward Snowden leaked details about the US government’s massive surveillance of internet traffic and social networks. Freitas started building a new version of Twitter. It was to be a more secure and robust version of Twitter, using code from two other massively successful online projects: bitcoin and BitTorrent.
    “ “As much as I like using Twitter for news reading, the possibility of a single entity being able to control this important flux of information made no sense to me,” he says.
    “Meet Twister — decentralized social network that theoretically cannot be shutdown by one entity. Furthermore, Twister is designed to prevent other users from knowing whether or not you’re online, your IP address, or who you follow. Just like Twitter, you can still post public messages, but when you send direct and private messages to others, they are protected using encryption. A test version of the app that runs on Android, Linux and OSX has been designed. The code is open source, so others can create a Windows or iPhone version.
    “Twister is simple to use for an app that is decentralized and emphasizes security. Alternatives to Twitter and Facebook, like Pump.io, Identica and Diaspora, have required that you operate your own dedicated server or trust someone else to run a server for you. Twister works instead like peer-to-peer file sharing software: Launch the app, it connects with other users. Hence, no need for a central server.
    “It uses the bitcoin protocol to achieve this. The protocol handles user registration and logins. Similar to how miners can verify transactions over the bitcoin network in order to make sure no one double-spends bitcoins and everyone only spends their own coins, a network of Twister computers verifies user names aren’t registered twice, and that posts attached to a particular user name are really coming from that user using. Handled through the BitTorrent protocol, posts themselves are distributed through the network quickly and efficiently, allowing users to receive near-instant notifications about new posts and messages, without the need for central servers.
    “Apple would do well spending some of its cash on such tech companies as Twister. It is a revolution in communications, like the internet itself, and goes beyond Twitter, which has had a dissapointing stock price since its IPO in 2013.”

Twitter:

    Larry Dignan of ZDNet: “What?! Really?! Sure, why not. Twitter has the pulse of news and breaking events and has tools to play the advertising and data mining businesses. Apple could become a de facto media and advertising business and Twitter gets them closer to the mark. And remember we’re not playing with our money — it’s Apple’s dough. Much easier to spend, say the $20 billion plus it would take to acquire Twitter.”

    Jason Perlow of ZDNet: “And then of course, there’s Twitter…”

    Seth Fiegerman of Business Insider: “If Apple really wants to make headway in the social networking space, the company could afford to buy Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter — or all three together.”

    Bruce Kennedy of Yahoo Finance: “This was the first firm entrepreneur and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen came up with, in response to a recent Twitter question about what companies he would snap up, if he were Apple's CEO. Twitter’s place in the world of social media appears to be rock solid, despite concerns that more than 40 percent of Twitter accounts have never sent a Tweet.
    “Twitter recently reported fourth-quarter revenue of $243 million, up 116 percent year-over-year, with some analysts expecting annual revenue in 2014 to top the $1 billion mark. The company has more than 240 million users who are active on a monthly basis, and says 500 million Tweets are sent daily. More than 75 percent of Twitter accounts are outside the U.S., and take place in over 35 different languages.
    “Last week, Twitter announced its agreement to purchase Gnip, which tracks social media and was an authorized reseller of Twitter data. According to the Wall Street Journal, Twitter generated $70.3 million in revenue last year just from licensing its data.”

Uber:

    Marcus Wohlsen of Wired: “Uber already amounts to a transportation network built on top of an iPhone platform. When Google Ventures poured more than a quarter-billion dollars into the ride-sharing startup, speculation ran rampant that the investment was just a precursor to an on-demand same-day delivery network for self-driving cars. Why couldn’t Uber be the same for Apple (especially if it owned Tesla, too)? With its superior design acumen, Apple seems like a top candidate to build a mobile logistics network for the modern world.”

Vimeo:

    Dan Frommer of Quartz: “YouTube isn’t for sale, but if Apple wants to expand in video, IAC—which owns websites like OKCupid, Ask.com and CollegeHumor—may be happy to part with Vimeo. The site has established itself as a home for high-quality indie videos and has more recently moved into on-demand rentals. (Vimeo’s “Watch Later” feature is a great, unsung use for the Apple TV.) iPhone and iPad users shoot a lot of videos; Apple could make Vimeo an easier way to host and share those than Facebook or YouTube, for example. This is a classic case of “why buy when Apple could build?” but Vimeo already exists and works, and its brand and community have value.
    “Estimated price: Less than $500 million. IAC reportedly tried to sell part of Vimeo in 2012 at a $300 million valuation.”

Visa:

    Matthew Kanterman of Forbes: “With a market capitalization of $106 billion, Apple could buy out the financial transaction processing and credit card company with a premium. With Apple’s push to beat Google to develop a mobile wallet, purchasing Visa would actually make sense.
    “The move would also help to bolster Apple’s financial position as it could move in-house financing programs and even offer Apple credit cards.”

Withings:

    Killian Bell of Cult of Mac: “With fitness tracking taken care, Withings’ smart scales could make the iWatch even more useful. Withings’ technology can track not only your weight, but also your body composition — how much of you is fat and how much is muscle — along with your heart rate and even the quality of the air inside your home or gym.
    “By adding these features, Apple could give iWatch the edge it’ll need to compete with devices like the Jawbone UP, the Nike+ FuelBand and the upcoming Galaxy Gear Fit.”

    Michael Grothaus of Know Your Mobile: “The Internet Of Things will be the next big area in consumer technology from here on out (along with wearables). A leading company in that area is Withings, who makes a great line of connected bathroom scales and blood pressure and baby monitors. And all their products already look like they were stolen from Jony Ive’s house anyway, so Apple just might as well buy the company. Especially after they lost Nest to Google.”

Wolfram Alpha:

    Michael Grothaus of Know Your Mobile: “If Google and Wolfram Alpha were both high school students, Google would be the jock and Wolfram Alpha would be the geek. It’s a “Computational Knowledge Engine” that makes Google look like it’s for Neanderthals. Apple already licenses Wolfram Alpha for some Siri searches, but if they bought the company and injected it with cash Apple could help make Wolfram Alpha the search engine of the 21st century.
    “To see just how good WolframAlpha is at selected tasks, download the dedicated app.”

Xerox:

    Ed Oswald of BetaNews: “Apple could undo all the talk about Steve Jobs stealing — ah, borrowing — Xerox’s GUI way back when with a simple acquisition. Then again, there’s little value for Apple here as anything that Xerox is working on right now is of little value to Cupertino.”

Yahoo:

    Ed Oswald of BetaNews: “The reasons why Apple would want Yahoo are few and far between, but look at it this way: each of the big three players would have their hands in the search market. Of course, there’s the sticky situation of Microsoft’s Bing powering Yahoo’s searches: would an Apple owned Yahoo go back on its own?”

dissenting opinion

    Yoni Heisler of The Unofficial Apple Weblog: “Earlier this week, I stumbled across a rather absurd article parroting a common refrain heard about Apple, namely that they need to take a page out of the playbooks of their less-successful competitors and start making headlines.
    “There are five technology companies that matter.
    “In order of influence, they are: Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft.
    “It’s pretty ridiculous that Apple is taken to task for not being more bold with its money as if wild moves that make headlines miraculously translate into shrewd business sense.
    “Tim Cook has stated time and time again that Apple is not opposed to making big billion-dollar acquisitions. At the same time, Cook emphasizes that is has to be the right acquisition.
    “[Jay] Yarow, writing for BusinessInsider, theorizes that Apple should buy Dropbox (it already tried) or Twitter (why, exactly?), while asking why Apple isn’t being more bold with its cash.
    “Again, there’s a difference between being bold and being smart. Sometimes these two are one and the same, and when Apple stumbles across such an opportunity, there’s no reason to assume Apple won’t jump at it.
    “I’m not sure if Apple pundits are always this lazy, but Apple in 2013 stepped up its game considerably with respect to corporate acquisitions, snatching up more companies last year than any other year in company history.
    “Remember WiFiSlam? Remember Apple’s November acquisition of PrimeSense? Remember the slew of mapping apps Apple picked up? Apple is clearly picking up companies to shore up holes in its product line. And sure, perhaps these acquisitions aren’t big-name multi-billion dollar targets, but those types of deals, historically speaking, often result in gigantic busts more often than not.
    “Microsoft has a long history of big and bold acquisitions and it hasn’t exactly helped them out; Hotmail, WebTV and Skype are just a few examples that come to mind. And oh yes, let’s not forget Microsoft's $6 billion acquisition of aQuantive. Here’s an interesting data point to digest: Microsoft from 1997-2007 acquired 101 companies.
    “You might even say that going on acquisition-binges is a bad sign, indicative of a company with no clear vision or unified strategy.
    “The difference between Apple and other tech companies is that Apple simply doesn’t advertise vaporware. For example, Google’s effort to measure glucose levels in tears with a contact lens is a noble pursuit, but that’s not a product that may ever hit the market. The battle to non-invasively measure patient glucose levels has been ongoing for decades, not to mention the fact that previous research shows that tears aren’t a prime indicator of glucose levels to begin with. On this topic, Om Malik of Gigaom wrote a thoughtful piece articulating that Google is tackling problems in a less than effective manner.
    “With respect to making creative acquisitions, it’d be one thing if there were specific companies people could point to as viable acquisition targets, but that’s not often the case. Dropbox is often floated, but people seem to forget that Apple already tried to purchase them a few years back.
    “In reality, the companies people often argue Apple should buy are simply well-known companies that would result in sensational headlines, i.e “Apple buys DirecTv!” These assertions underscore a fundamental lack of understanding as to how Apple operates.
    “John Gruber of DaringFireball writes:

    “This is the worst sort of advice, suggesting a complete ignorance of everything Apple stands for.… Just buy something. Spend, spend, spend. Acquire. Buy all the spaghetti, throw it against the wall, see what sticks. Wrong. Apple’s model is about focus. Apple wasn’t joking about “a thousand no’s for every yes” - that's really how they think, what they believe. That’s the DNA.

    “All the while, Apple goes about its business, ignores the pundits, and snatches up companies like AuthenTec. Next thing you know, we have TouchID.
    “Would it be interesting if Apple bought Tesla? Hell yeah. Should Apple have acquired Waze? I think so. Nonetheless, anyone who thinks Apple is twiddling its thumbs simply isn’t paying attention.
    “With Apple purchasing more companies last year than ever before, doesn’t it stand to reason that Apple isn’t asleep at the wheel? With the bevy of biomedical related hires Apple has made in the last year or so, doesn’t it stand to reason that Apple is working hard on some cool stuff?
    “You would think a company with Apple’s track record would be given more of a benefit of the doubt, but as Horace Dediu astutely pointed out a few months ago, Apple is always viewed as being in a “perpetual state of free-fall.”
    “At the end of the day, Apple seems to be an easy target for lazy reporters who seem to take Apple to task for not showing off what it has cooking in its R&D labs.
    “And if anyone honestly thinks that we’ll see Amazon drones flying around before Apple’s next big thing hits the market, well, I may just have some bitcoins to sell you.”

and finally:

    Pudel Fan at Google+ suggested: “A conscious.”

    I commented: “Great idea. But discounting rumors of certain semi-divine beings purchasing souls, I don’t think you can actually buy a conscience.”

    Ron Beselt at Google+ replied: “BUT I’m sure they could sue someone to get one…”

    So, which companies do I suggest Apple buy? Adobe, Akamai, American Express, ARM Holdings, Boston Dynamics (from Google), Cisco, Clearwire (from Sprint), Comcast, Digital (from HP), Disney, Dropbox, FitBit, GeoEye, GoPro, Here, Jawbone, Leap Motion, LinkedIn, Mattel, Nuance Communications, Oracle, Research in Motion, SanDisk, Sharp, Shazam, Shure, Sonos, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and PlayStation (from Sony), SoundCloud, SpaceX, Telegram, Tesla, Time Warner, T-Mobile (from Deutsch Telekom), TSMC, Twitter, Uber, Vimeo, WIthings, and Wolfram Alpha.


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