Software, Hardware, Silverware

In Which We Examine Andrew Sorkin’s ‘Apple Shopping List’

Andrew Sorkin, writing for the New York Times:

Question: What would you do if you had $117 billion?

That’s the challenge facing Tim Cook, Apple’s chief, whose company’s cash hoard keeps growing — by about $1 billion a week.

He could hold onto it. He could increase Apple’s dividend, which he instituted this year for the first time.

Or he could spend it.

Oh boy. These posts always go so well.

This is the one no-brainer on the list. Nuance, based in Burlington, Mass., provides much of the speech recognition technology behind Apple’s Siri and dictation functions.

Frankly, I’m surprised Apple hasn’t already bought Nuance. With such a pivotal role in Apple’s marque features this year, it’s shocking that they are licensing dictation software. Nuance is without doubt the best at speech-to-text, and if Apple wants to secure that for their platform, acquisition, not a partnership, is necessary. The fact is that Apple doesn’t want anyone else (read: Google and Microsoft) to match Siri, and if Nuance is out there to be played with, others will jump at it.

Consider this a one-two punch. Apple should buy the social media companies Twitter and Path.

Um, no. And here’s why:

If Apple were to stir together Twitter, Path and its own Photo Stream service — and leveraged all the data it has collected about its users over the years (while mindful of privacy issues) — the company would have quite a product that would keep consumers hooked.

Thing is, Apple isn’t in the business of trying to learn every little detail of their customer’s lives, and it’s in everyone’s best interest that it remains that way. Apple sells devices that we love to happy consumers, it doesn’t sell happy consumers to advertisers we hate.

Research in Motion: Yes, this one may be a head-scratcher, considering that the iPhone seems to have eaten RIM’s BlackBerry for breakfast — and lunch.


Everyone is talking about the mobile wallet. Square, started by the Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has created a unique new electronic payment system though iPhones and iPads.

If Apple wants a mobile payment service of their own (and signs point to yes), they’ll build one. And it certainly won’t have a dongle that plugs into the audio jack. There’s nothing about Square that Apple couldn’t easily replicate and improve upon on their own.

With a stock market value of $13.5 billion, Sprint can be purchased for a song. Apple could easily spend four times more than that — say, $50 billion — to build out the Sprint network and turn it into a showcase for the next generation mobile technology.

Here’s the problem: if Apple is going to spend $65 billion dollars on a cellular network, they aren’t gonna buy Sprint’s. They’ll build their own, and they’ll do it better than anyone else. The instant Apple buys Sprint, AT&T and Verizon will drop the iPhone and Apple will lose millions of customers. It won’t happen. Trust me.

1 for 6. Not too bad, considering most of these speculation posts are insane. Let me add a couple more companies I think Apple really should consider purchasing: Tom Tom, OpenStreetMap, and the plethora of other services Apple is relying upon for map data. If Apple’s smart, and I think they are, they know that they need these sources under lock and key if they want to remain competitive.

If Apple starts buying anyone big, expect them to be services that they are already relying upon. Those are the services that Apple has to worry about, not Twitter or Path, who are relying upon Apple.