For over a decade, Apple has been known as the company who’s been leading the charge in product innovation. Now with the passing of Steve Jobs, many people question if the company can hold true to such a high standard.
Strangely, Apple has sat idly by while Google continues to snatch up innovative start-ups such as Sparrow, Snapseed, Meebo, Nik Software and established companies like Zagat and Motorola. There’s an endless list of other companies swallowed by the gigantic search engine. Google understands how to stay sharp when it comes to improving its products no matter where the forward-looking ideas come from (whether it’s within the company or outside of the company by way of acquisition).
So what is Apple’s problem?
We all know that Apple hates to give credit to innovation outside of the company unless it has to. This mentality is troublesome because it gets in the way of making important additions to its products, as it shuns acquisitions that could help improve the company now. It’s this elitist-like attitude Apple is well-known for. It’s the same attitude that has catapulted Apple as the number one valued company. And it’ll be the same closed-minded approach that hurts the company in the immediate future — if it doesn’t change.
Acquiring companies that are good in niche areas can better Apple in the long run. Splurging a little could have helped with something big like the Maps disaster, and it could help something minuscule like its default Apple mail client, which stumbles with features that are cumbersome and looks that are uninspiring. Unfortunately, Google bought iOS’ best third-party mail client, Sparrow, for a meager $25 million.
What is Apple saving its $100 billion for?
This is a question that none of us media folks or analysts can really answer. And it’s perhaps a question Apple itself can’t answer. Since real software innovation seems to be at a standstill at the moment, the company can focus on making an impact in other areas that affect the consumer.
For example, making a play in television. Not the rumored TV set everyone keeps foaming from the mouth over, instead something a bit more reasonable like revamping the way we use its Apple TV box. Many have suggested that Apple is behind the scenes working on a content deal with cable providers. My thing is, why even go that route, when you can pretty much buy whatever the hell you want?
Tim Cook has said many times that the company plans to “redefine the television,” and that it’s an area “that’s been left behind.” So the best way to become a major player in the industry is not kissing the asses of the cable providers, but buying content or at least sending the threat of doing so if they don’t play ball.
Comcast bought 51 percent of NBC, leaving GE with the other 49 percent; and believe it or not, the cable giant is said to be working on buying out GE’s remaining stake in 2014 (analysts put value at $7-$8 billion). Apple should aggressively pursue GE’s 49 percent. That would be a smart acquisition that wouldn’t just bring them access to content, but big time revenue opportunities in television (hence: the Olympics and NFL Sunday Night Football). Apple could do a lot with NBC alone.
An NBC buyout is just one example of how Apple TV could jump off. The Cupertino based company could also become a major player in the online-streaming business. They could buy Hulu or Netflix to build on the agreements they already have with cable and major studios. Hell, they could buy all three companies I’ve named for under $30 billion.
In continuing with the streaming business, I’ll move over to the music side of things. Many believe Apple wants to start its own streaming music service like that of Spotify or Rdio to name a few. Again, Apple could just buy one of the major music-streaming companies and add it in a cool way on Apple TV and all its other iProducts.
These are just a few things Apple could do with its $100 billion that could help the company stay ahead for the next decade. I believe making moves like the suggestions I’ve mentioned here will allow the company to stay ahead in innovation — an advantage that is slipping by the quarter. However, time will tell if Apple changes its mindset when it comes to absorbing companies they could use.
They need to stop being cheap and open that big wallet of theirs.