With Apple Inc. having more than US$18.4 billion in cash reserves, the Motley Foolis Tim Beyers has three suggestions for what to do with that money: Namely, buy either Netflix, Sun Microsystems, or Akamai. According to the column, each of the companies brings benefits to Apple in terms of growth, or at least stymieing Microsoftis own future plans for growth.
Netflix, the DVD subscription/rental company, falls into the latter category of companies that Microsoft is involved with or for whom might have plans. Mr. Beyers wrote, "Buying Netflix would ruin Mr. Softyis chances of becoming a serious competitor in digital delivery and would greatly expand the list of titles available via iTunes -- titles that, right now, arenit being monetized."
Akamai is the company that supplies iTunesi bandwidth, as well as other distributed bandwidth Apple utilizes. Apple was also an early investor in Akamai, but Mr. Beyers points out that Microsoft is also a partner in the company.
"Even so," he wrote, "I suspect that there would be less of a fight over Akamai when it comes to Microsoft. For as much business as these two do, itis Limelight Networks that supports Xbox Live."
Which leaves Sun Microsystems as his last suggestion for an acquisition. Mr. Beyers sees Sun potentially facilitating Appleis growth in the corporate market due to Sunis firm footing in that market.
"Consider [Sunis Unix operating system] Solaris," he wrote, "which remains the most popular flavor of the Unix operating system for business deployments. Since Mac OS X is built on a Unix kernel, itis possible -- in theory, at least -- to run software designed for a Sun SPARC machine on a Mac, and vice versa."
He doesnit offer too much detail about how Apple could leverage Sunis enterprise presence other than to say that Sun has so far been able to operate in that space while maintaining an independent reputation. He doesnit explore Appleis lack of credibility as a consistent partner in the enterprise space, or how the two disparate cultures would be able to integrate with each other.
With so much money in its cash reserves, speculation is likely to increase concerning what Apple will do with that money. Mr. Beyersi piece wasnit intended so much as a blueprint, but rather as a wide net cast over the topic. We expect to see more such pieces going forward.