Apple Acquisition & Partnership Ideas

Historically, Apple has made relatively small acquisitions. It has rarely acquired or purchased stakes in companies larger than $1B, preferring to buy small to medium-sized companies and then integrating. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_Apple Instead, Apple has invested massive amounts of its cash to buyback its own AAPL shares, on the order of 100’s-of-billions-of-dollars, rather than do mega-sized … Continue reading “Apple Acquisition & Partnership Ideas”

Historically, Apple has made relatively small acquisitions. It has rarely acquired or purchased stakes in companies larger than $1B, preferring to buy small to medium-sized companies and then integrating.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_Apple

Instead, Apple has invested massive amounts of its cash to buyback its own AAPL shares, on the order of 100’s-of-billions-of-dollars, rather than do mega-sized Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A).

Below are a list of a few “small-ish” companies that I think Apple should consider adding to their portfolio.

Random technology acquisitions:

CompanyCommentaryDeal
DescriptAcquisition
GoProThis brand has a huge following and would fit in well with Apple’s lifestyle brand of live-action, outdoors video footage. This is the video camera market leader for biking, hiking, running, surfing, ski diving, skiing, and other outdoor adventures. Not to mention their awe-inspiring commercials that seem Apple-like. Its market capitalization has currently dropped to around $600m, so might be good value-for-mindshare purchase. I see this as similar to the Beats Electronics acquisition by Apple. GoPro has a combination of hardware, software, and services. For Beats, this was headphones and speakers and a music subscription service — which ultimately lead to Apple Music. For GoPro, it has cameras, accessories, apps, and the GoPro Plus cloud subscription service. GoPro Plus might dovetail nicely with iCloud, somehow. Recently, GoPro started developing their own GoPro GP1 System-On-Chip (SoC). I could see these being replaced by Apple’s Axx series processors. Perhaps, GoPro cameras might also make a good long-term AR and VR investment for the rumored Apple Glasses.Acquisition
Objective DevelopmentThis company makes Internet network traffic and security monitoring apps. Their products include: Little Snitch, which monitors Internet traffic; Micro Snitch, which monitors microphone and camera activity; and Internet Access Policy Viewer, to help determine what apps are supposed to connect to (specific servers or sites). Apple is a big proponent of privacy. Purchasing this company for its apps and talent would expand Apple’s security and privacy capabilities for end-users.Acquisition
TextSniperAcquisition

Apple Metal acquisitions and partnerships

I’d like to see Apple expand their portfolio to include more 3D apps for power users, such as those in the fields of: 3D architecture design, computer graphics/special effects/raytracing, fashion design, and game development.

Convert some of these existing apps to utilize the Apple Metal APIs — most of these apps currently use the NVIDIA CUDA APIs and only run hardware-accelerated on NVIDIA GPUs. Since Macs don’t use NVIDIA CUDA or GPUs, only Windows/Linux versions of these apps with NVIDIA GPUS can have hardware acceleration. Utilizing the Metal APIs, would allow these apps to be hardware-accelerated on the Mac platform. This would be a huge plus for Mac power users and prevent them from having to switch to Windows or Linux for hardware acceleration. As Apple grows its footprint in 3D, it’s likely that many of these 3D applications will lead to future AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) use case opportunities — especially for the rumored Apple Glasses.

If Apple is unable to migrate these apps to Metal, I would like to see Apple hardware support CUDA (not currently supported by Apple) and OpenCL (being discontinued on Apple machines), in addition to Metal, so Apple users can have hardware acceleration, regardless of the underlying software frameworks

I’d also like to see Apple AfterBurner Cards be updated to accelerate Apple Metal.

I can also envision a future where some of these apps not only work on MacOS, but also on iOS/iPadOS devices. Here are a few potential companies:

CompanyCommentaryDeal
BlenderThe free and open-source 3D creation suite. Apple would not need to acquire Blender, as its open-source. However, Apple might consider contributing some engineering and financial resources to the Blender Development Fund to accelerate Blender integration with Apple Metal APIs.Partnership
Chaos Group V-RaySimilarly, with Blender, I’d like to see Apple partner with Chaos Group to accelerate V-Ray’s utilization of Metal APIs.Partnership
CLO3D3D Fashion Design software. Currently, relies on Chaos Group V-Ray rendering engine for CLO3D renders.Acquisition
LumionReal-time 3D architectural visualization tool for architects, urban planners, and designers.Acquisition
NVIDIAApple and NVIDIA have been in a cold war for a number of years. I’d like to see a cease-fire and some level of partnersip. A few things that would be nice are: Apple supporting CUDA, which would mean Apple would support NVIDIA GPUs. And vice versa, would also be nice if NVIDIA GPUs could support Apple Metal.Partnership
OpenCLApple helped to create the OpenCL standard with the Khronos Group. Apple stopped supporting OpenCL on version 1.2, even though the OpenCL 3.0 spec was recently released. I’d like to see Apple continue to support OpenCL, in addition to Metal, and possibly CUDA (see above).Partnership
Pixar RenderManSimilarly, with Blender, I’d like to see Apple partner with Pixar to accelerate RenderMan’s utilization of Metal APIs. After all, once-upon-a-time, Pixar was a Steve Job’s company!Partnership
REDPartnership to accelerate playback and editing of RED’s R3D format on the Apple AfterBurner cards.Partnership
UnityPartnership
2KAn Apple partnership to bring their popular esports (i.e. NBA 2K) games to Apple devices and maybe even make these a part of Apple Arcade.Partnership
ActivisionPartnership
Electronic ArtsPartnership

Apple TV+ channels

ChannelsCommentaryDeal
SportsWould love to see licensing deals with the major sports leagues, such as: MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL for live sports, as well as archived material. Perhaps each league can be an à la carte Apple TV+ subscription add-on.Licensing

2014 WWDC Predictions

Expectations are all over the place for Apple’s 2014 World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC).  Will there just be incremental updates to software and hardware or will there be something big and disruptive?  Here are some predictions that could happen.  Which ones do you think will be announced tomorrow? [poll id=”3″]

Expectations are all over the place for Apple’s 2014 World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC).  Will there just be incremental updates to software and hardware or will there be something big and disruptive?  Here are some predictions that could happen.  Which ones do you think will be announced tomorrow?

[poll id=”3″]

Apple Software Improvement Suggestions

Apple is a company that strives for perfection.  Perfection in their hardware products, in their software stack, and services.  As we all know, nobody or no company is perfect and there are always bug fixes and updates that need to be made. With WWDC 2013 happening next week and more surprises in the Fall, there … Continue reading “Apple Software Improvement Suggestions”

Apple is a company that strives for perfection.  Perfection in their hardware products, in their software stack, and services.  As we all know, nobody or no company is perfect and there are always bug fixes and updates that need to be made.

With WWDC 2013 happening next week and more surprises in the Fall, there are a ton of changes that will change the look-and-feel of Apple’s operating systems and Apps. As those software changes arrive, I hope to also see Apple tackle some of these software improvement suggestions:

 

App Improvements


Calendar App

  • Better syncing with Google Calendars or Google Sync — shared calendars and invitations especially

Mail App

  • Improve searching capability, cannot find some items sometimes
  • Allow selecting multiple items to “Move to Folder” instead of just one at a time

iTunes App

  • iTunes Account should allow ability to link to more than 1 credit card
  • iTunes Add “Wish List” for rentals (currently only for purchased/buy)
  • iTunes Add “Rate” an item for rentals (currently only for purchased/buy items)

iLife Apps

iPhoto + iMovie + Garage Band

  • Make iLife -> iLife Social.  Better integration and syncing better with social networks, such as: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. and iCloud sharing.  Allow ability to share your music compositions, your photos, your movies with friends and family.
  • Provide iCloud to backup ALL your iLife content — music compositions, photos, movies — from Garage Band, iPhoto, iMovies.  No need to use third-party cloud story (i.e. DropBox).
  • Improve syncing iLife content between all devices via iCloud.

iPhoto

  • Find and remove duplicate photos
  • Improve sorting capabilities
  • Better syncing and storage in iCloud, replaces Photostream, remove Photo stream

iBooks App

  • Add “Wish List”

Newsstand App

  • Add “Wish List”
  • Add bookmarking
  • Store needs to only show magazines, not redirect to main App Store with unrelated Apps
  • Subscription service for all magazines, like Netflix for Magazines (or Next Issue App)
  • Manage Magazine Subscriptions easier

 

Operating Systems Improvements

 

Mac OS + iOS

Across the line for Mac and iOS-device Operating Systems.

  • Add Cover Flow view for Apps
  • Themes/Skins
  • Scalable Graphics
  • Unify FaceTime + Messages
  • Allow FaceTime + Messages Audio/Video Chat to support more than 4 people and more than 10 people audio conference
  • Password protect individual apps from OS-level, instead of just at the device-level (login screen).  For example: password protect Mail or Calendar.
  • Add Siri APIs for third-party apps to utilize

Mac OS specific

MacBook + Mac Mini + iMac + Mac Pro

  • Add iBooks App
  • Add Find Friends App
  • Add Maps App
  • Add Newsstand App
  • Add Siri
  • Gatekeeper should show list of unsigned Apps that have been allowed or banned

iOS specific

iPhone + iPad + iPod touch + Apple TV.

  • Add ability to lock Apps to screen – cannot accidentally drag or delete.
  • Add ability to sort Apps (i.e. alphabetically)
  • Add ability to have Apps not leave gaps on screen when one is moved or deleted
  • Fix Photos App to sort correctly

iPhone

  • Add Photo Booth App

iPad

  • Add “Apple Store” App
  • Add Calculator App
  • Add Passbook App
  • Add Stock Market App
  • Add Weather App

Apple TV

  • Add Pandora App
  • Add Hulu ad sponsored (not just Hulu+) App
  • Add App Store and SDK

These are some of the Apple software changes I hope to see.  Can you think of other areas that Apple can improve on its software (OS and Apps) and services (iCloud)?

Apple’s Revenue Streams

Apple has the following revenue/profit generating category: iPhone (>50%) iPad (>20%) Mac (10%) Apple Care (4%) iTunes/Apps/iBooks/Newsstand content (3%) iPod (2%) iAd (<1%) Apple TV (<1%) Accessories etc. From this list, only a few are currently multi-billion dollar categories.  Especially of note, the major  contributing “legs to the stool” are iPhone, iPad, Mac. Current multi-billion … Continue reading “Apple’s Revenue Streams”

Apple has the following revenue/profit generating category:

  • iPhone (>50%)
  • iPad (>20%)
  • Mac (10%)
  • Apple Care (4%)
  • iTunes/Apps/iBooks/Newsstand content (3%)
  • iPod (2%)
  • iAd (<1%)
  • Apple TV (<1%)
  • Accessories
  • etc.

From this list, only a few are currently multi-billion dollar categories.  Especially of note, the major  contributing “legs to the stool” are iPhone, iPad, Mac.

Current multi-billion dollar categories:

  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Mac
  • Apple Care
  • iTunes/Apps/iBooks/Newsstand content
  • iPod

With new upcoming products and services over the next few years, I predict the following areas will expand greatly or be entirely new revenue/profit streams.

Predicted new or expanded multi-billion dollar categories:

  • iWallet – mobile payments
  • iAd – Expand from App ads to iRadio, Apple TV
  • iTunes/Apps/iBooks/Newsstand content
  • Apple TV Set – The fabled Apple TV Set
  • Apple TV Subscription – Become a cable on-demand service for monthly fee
  • iWatch – Biometric wearable computing device

iOS Product Lineup

Since the first iPhone was shown, January 2007, it has turned the mobile industry upside down.  Shortly after, September 2007, the iPod Touch was launched.  Sort of an “iPhone without the phone.”  Then in 2010, the iPad was launched.  And, of course, the Apple TV was launched as a “hobby” the same day the iPhone … Continue reading “iOS Product Lineup”

Since the first iPhone was shown, January 2007, it has turned the mobile industry upside down.  Shortly after, September 2007, the iPod Touch was launched.  Sort of an “iPhone without the phone.”  Then in 2010, the iPad was launched.  And, of course, the Apple TV was launched as a “hobby” the same day the iPhone was launched, but many people forget that, as it has not made as big of an impact as some of these other products – yet.

The existing iOS product lineup and price ranges are:

  • iPhone $0-$600+
  • iPod Touch $199-$399
  • iPad $399-$829 (w or w/o data plan)
  • AppleTV $99

The new iPhone will likely be announced tomorrow.  There is also anticipation of an iPad Mini and a new iPod Touch — if not tomorrow, then in the near future.  I am of the agreement, as many others are, that if an iPad Mini is released, as speculated, and is priced aggressively, that Apple will continue to own the lion’s share of the tablet market for the foreseeable future.  Now, what I hope Apple also does is release a new iPod Touch that matches the features on the new iPhone (such as larger screen, etc), but, again, without the phone.  I also want to see a iPod Touch option with data plan, just like on the iPad, to allow Apple to be more disruptive — a data plan option across the line for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad — for all the mobile iOS device sizes.

With that said, here’s my own forecast for the Fall iOS lineup and price points (don’t expect another new AppleTV this late in the year):

  • iPhone $0-$600+
  • iPod Touch $149-$249 (w or w/o data plan)
  • iPad Mini $249-$399 (w or w/o data plan)
  • iPad $399-$829 (w or w/o data plan)
  • Apple TV $99

Looking forward to the keynote tomorrow.

Apple Bank Card

Game Changers.  Apple has a history of changing entire industries: The Mac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, The App Store, iPad, iBooks, Apple TV, etc.  The change to these industries are digital and disruptive.  What’s next?  It needs to be something BIG, very B-I-G.  Apple’s market capitalization is approximately $500 Billion with revenues of over $100 Billion … Continue reading “Apple Bank Card”

Game Changers.  Apple has a history of changing entire industries: The Mac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, The App Store, iPad, iBooks, Apple TV, etc.  The change to these industries are digital and disruptive.  What’s next?  It needs to be something BIG, very B-I-G.  Apple’s market capitalization is approximately $500 Billion with revenues of over $100 Billion annually and growing.  Apple is currently the largest company in the world.  It needs something to be big enough to impact its bottom-line — to move the needle.  It needs to be something that consumers use frequently.  What’s next?  I suggest the Apple Bank Card – a virtual credit card. Continue reading “Apple Bank Card”

Steve Jobs: Digital Disruption

At first we might have dared it was luck.  Then he did it again and again and again.  Each product more revolutionary and bold than the last.  During the dark ages, when he was in exile from Apple, while he created PIXAR and NeXT and creating the intersection between fine arts and technology, the rest … Continue reading “Steve Jobs: Digital Disruption”

steve jobs keynote

At first we might have dared it was luck.  Then he did it again and again and again.  Each product more revolutionary and bold than the last.  During the dark ages, when he was in exile from Apple, while he created PIXAR and NeXT and creating the intersection between fine arts and technology, the rest of the tech industry was advancing much slower than it could have.  When he returned, he changed Apple by sheer will into the world’s largest start-up  — which has innovated and grown at such a frenetic pace that the rest of Silicon Valley has not been able to keep up.  Apple has one of the deepest executive talent pools, the most powerful supply chain, and while the largest company in the world by market capitalization is still the fastest growing company in the S&P500…. Continue reading “Steve Jobs: Digital Disruption”

Steve Jobs & Larry Ellison: The Line in the Sand

Legend has it that when Steve Jobs was about to make his return to Apple, that he met up with his good friend, Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle.  At that time, Microsoft was the dominant tech powerhouse and Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy.  Both Oracle and Apple viewed Microsoft as a formidable adversary. … Continue reading “Steve Jobs & Larry Ellison: The Line in the Sand”

steve jobs keynote larry ellison keynote

Legend has it that when Steve Jobs was about to make his return to Apple, that he met up with his good friend, Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle.  At that time, Microsoft was the dominant tech powerhouse and Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy.  Both Oracle and Apple viewed Microsoft as a formidable adversary. To keep Microsoft and other tech powerhouses at bay, Steve allegedly drew an imaginary line and reportedly said, “Larry, you take the enterprise-side, we’ll take the consumer-side.”

This alliance has served them well for the last decade and counting.  In the meantime, Apple made a alliance with Google. Apple had the best front-end systems, and Google had the best back-end systems. But that alliance has been weakened, if not broken.  They are “frenemies.”  But these alliances, among many others — Intel, NVIDIA, ARM, Facebook, open-source, etc. – has been a multi-front attack on Microsoft and now Google, Amazon, Facebook, and even Intel. Now that the Apple-Google alliance is over, could there be a new Apple-Oracle alliance?

Oracle has made many major acquisitions in the meantime, and one of its most interesting plays on the enterprise side has been able to acquire technologies based around Java: BEA (WebLogic), Tangosol, and Sun Microsystems (creators of Java) itself.  Additionally, with the Sun Microsystems acquisition it inherited MySQL, Solaris, and ZFS.

However, there has been clamor recently that the next area that Apple can move into is the enterprise world.  “What is taking so long?” analysts conjecture.  The Line in the Sand. Apple has dabbled in enterprise, such as their xServe, xSAN, OS X Server, iPhone with encryption and Microsoft Exchange support, etc. However, Apple has not gone all-in on the enterprise and seem content to stay, for the most part, on the other side of the line.

There are some pieces that could benefit both Apple and Oracle if they begin to cross-license their technologies without necessarily causing both companies to compete with each other.

For example: Oracle’s superior ZFS could becoming the new file system for Apple Mac OS X and iOS.  In fact, it was announced by Sun CEO a few years ago to be the next file system for Apple, before Oracle acquired Sun. Oracle could license this file system to Apple.

Apple’s Bonjour, AirPlay, iChat, FaceTime, and iTunes streaming could become an interesting play for Oracle to compete with Cisco and others in the networking industry. While Bonjour and AirPlay are Local Area Network (LAN) plays, iChat, FaceTime, and iTunes streaming could utilize more backend systems. And we know that Apple is building one of the biggest data centers in North Carolina. But will they need Oracle at all to move into the cloud?

Steve Jobs suit

Recently, Larry Ellison made the comment that Oracle is looking into buying a chip company so they can be more like Apple — by owning the entire hardware/software stack. While most analysts suspect that the most logical companies to acquire would be AMD or NVIDIA, what if Oracle made a play to move to get into the mobile industry by buying ARM? But, why would Oracle buy ARM when Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA chips are used for big iron? We can argue that while ARM is still a mobile chip company it is beginning to move into data centers with ARM powered servers, like those developed by Smoothstone. As ARM evolves into not just an extremely energy-efficient, but powerful computing chip company, it will become more attractive to back-end companies, like Oracle, to be used for their back-end database and middle-ware products.

If Oracle were to purchase ARM, that could change and possibly forge a different atmosphere between Apple and Oracle. The risk is that Larry Ellison and Steve Jobs may end up competing. Today, ARM sells their chip licenses. Would Oracle give Apple a discount vs. other ARM licensees? Or would Apple just be another regular licensee, as they are today? Would pricing lead to discord between Oracle and Apple? Interesting to see if these two massive companies can continue to stay at arms length and stay out of each others’ sandboxes — while mobile remains one of the hottest categories in technology today. (Side note: Apple was a major contributor to ARM back in the 1990’s and at one point owned ~50% of ARM).

Another thought, is that Oracle could buy EMC and, its subsiduary, VMWare and move into the cloud virtualization market. Today we have the big players such as Google, Amazon, and RackSpace in the cloud market, but there is still no clear-cut winner of virtualization of private clouds. This would be an interesting play for Oracle, but again, could this impact Apple’s move into the cloud and see Oracle and Apple as potential competitors?

The story is still being written for these two companies and their respective founders, but the most interesting thing to me, is how both sides were able to draw an imaginary line, follow-through with their plans, and be so successful without competing. Two friends from opposite worlds, one line.

steve jobs tux larry ellison black turtleneck

Apple’s EcoSystem

Tomorrow, the world is expecting Apple, Inc. to revolutionize the world, once again.  It’s revolutionized the world several times: personal computing, the iPod, the iPhone, and hopefully, tomorrow — the iTablet (or something along those lines).  However, we must realize that all these hardware devices have fairly dependent ties to iTunes for content and that … Continue reading “Apple’s EcoSystem”

steve_jobs_top_secret.jpg

Tomorrow, the world is expecting Apple, Inc. to revolutionize the world, once again.  It’s revolutionized the world several times: personal computing, the iPod, the iPhone, and hopefully, tomorrow — the iTablet (or something along those lines).  However, we must realize that all these hardware devices have fairly dependent ties to iTunes for content and that is a revolutionary product, itself — though it needs some tuning.  That’s why the game-changer is not just some kind of Tablet.  I’m expecting an update to iTunes.  Maybe, iTunes.com or something in the cloud.  We have heard many times that Apple is building a massive data center.  We already have MobileMe in the cloud, what’s the next logical step? Continue reading “Apple’s EcoSystem”

Two Wires

Apple/Intel‘s Light Peak.  I wrote about this back in Feb 2006.  So glad it’s finally happening, and I quote: Two Wires I like to simplify things. The minimum to achieve the optimum — Occam’s Razor. Therefore, I am going to suggest that there only needs to be two kinds of wires in the world. Yes, … Continue reading “Two Wires”

Light Peak

Apple/Intel‘s Light Peak.  I wrote about this back in Feb 2006.  So glad it’s finally happening, and I quote:

Two Wires

I like to simplify things. The minimum to achieve the optimum — Occam’s Razor. Therefore, I am going to suggest that there only needs to be two kinds of wires in the world. Yes, just two — power & data. Now, the power cord you are familiar with for delivering electricity. However, for data transmission I would suggest something along the lines of fiber-optic or Ethernet cable. Your land-line, cable television, high-speed Internet would all be delivered via this data cable and, if need be, be powered by the power cable. A computer would also use the data cable to communicate with all manner of devices such as monitors, printers, webcams; stereos would use the data cable to connect to speakers; televisions would use the data cable to connect to the content provider. Which would mean the data cable would replace the following cables and connectors: keyboard and mouse connectors, audio & video cables, SATA, SCSI, IDE, Parallel, Serial, USB, Firewire, VGA, SuperVGA, DVI, etc. Of course each device would have an assigned IP addresses. It would make connecting and setting up equipment and devices so easy. Why do we have more than two kinds of wires?