3 Apple moves I’d like to see this year
With AAPL closing close to $350, poised to get to $450 before the end of the year, one may wonder where it will stop and, first and foremost, what are the future of the company and the future of its products. If you’re lucky to have held on to APPL stock, right now the sky’s the limit: stock still undervalued, plenty of cash in the bank, no great loss during the last crash of the stock market… On the other hand, Google is out for blood, Microsoft seems completely un-reactive, but no less than the PC manufacturers. Who, let’s be honest, have been selling too much shit with too low profits to be able to durably invest in research and development and have an impact in nowadays’ rapidly evolving market. They are more or less condemned to follow the train of the leaders this year again.
So, where do we go from there? Do we crank up to eleven, or get into something else? I think there is little more to revolutionize on the hardware side. The road seems cleared, with SSD and multi-core, highly integrated architecture chips. Low consumption, maybe 3D for multithreading, and you’ve got the next 3-4 years without a problem. I’d be expecting some major changes in only two domains: screens and batteries. I won’t talk about the former because of privileged intel, and I can’t really talk about the latter but am able to assure you that big things are coming in terms of fuel cells in computers/phones. Imagine reloading your iphone or laptop once a month… there you go!
A dream come true?
Everyone seems to think it’s easy to walk in the shoes of a CEO. Sure, the money, the manor, the Gulfstream V are cool. But you get them because you’re not making strategic mistakes. Most of today’s CEOs of tech companies are going for a low risk, low profile. That said, the last one to take a whatever risk, high profile was Carly Fiorina who almost succeeded in taking down HP. Now, let’s focus on a scenario of an aggressive Steve Jobs, and see what he would be likely to do. See, Google is out for blood, the war on codecs at least has shown that. And it has been going on for quite a while, 2 years at least. I can still remember that board member who resigned from Apple because of conflicts of interest with his mother company, Google. Most pundits seem to woe Apple to another great fall, at least as impressive as that suffered in the 80s to Microsoft. That’s pretty much saying that the board of Apple is stupid. When you have already been to war, and lost the battle that mattered, are you going through the same mistakes again? Knowing that the best defense is the attack, and you’d rather have the higher ground, let’s look at some audacious possibilities.
- Take-over bid on Adobe: this solves the whole Flash, H.264 imbroglio, and has the advantage to secure some of the high quality (scratch that, I don’t like any of these software) software base that many Apple creatives like. Is it possible? Yes indeed. Apple’s war chest is rich of $50b before this quarter is reported, and I’d expect it to grow to about $55b when this is done. There are 170 million shares of Adobe out there, and the price per share is about $34 tonight. This puts the value of Adobe at about $5.8b, and remember that less than 50% of it is needed to get total control of the company. So, would that be worth it? First, it cuts down the codec war once and for all, by controlling Flash. Second, I believe that the addition of InDesign and Photoshop to Apple’s portfolio would be welcome. Dreamweaver would be good as well, particularly when we have not heard about iWeb for so long.
- If you’ve read that previous entry, you know I’ve been speculating on the purpose of that giant server farm Apple is building not so secretly. Here’s another option for its use: a search engine. What do you need for a good search engine? Well, you need space, you need to capture the web, index it and find a quick way to search it. If I were on Apple’s board of directors, I would be literally pissed at the dominance of Google over web search. Particularly when their search engine is no longer the best one. I’ve tried recently an old Friend: Altavista. Know what? First of all, it’s still here (Carol Batz must have forgotten about it, or she would have closed it - it’s owned by Yahoo now), second of all, it really rocks. No ads, quick, and a high quality of search results. I’ve tried Bing and Yahoo as well, and a few aggregators (not so good), and found that they’re not far behind. So, again, when both Google and Microsoft have their own, Apple should have theirs as well, and possibly better…
- I honestly struggled to find a third one, I would be delighted with 1&2. Yet, the third item would make sense: invest in devising a good database technology. I’m tired of hearing that Apple is not present in enterprise. Translate: they do not provide a good database/server infrastructure. Let’s face it, with the demise (discontinuation) of XServe, this is not ready to change. But I still believe that there is a good place to pick in databases, to disturb the hegemony of Oracle and SAP. Both suffer from their old age and are, at best, clunky. They’re, as far as I know, still based on a tree-like structure, which we know now is certainly not the best way to order data. Nature does it better. And Wolfram does is better too. Conclusion: buy yourself a piece of Stephen Wolfram’s mind, it’s worth every penny. And get Mathematica under your wing, as well as Wolfram Alpha (coming back to the search) and its engine. These guys have never let Apple down, it would be time to give them a lift back. I haven’t checked how much they’re worth, but it’s surely not as heavy a purchase as Adobe.
So there you are, uncle Dav’s creative ways of spending money in 2011 in Cupertino. Think about it, increase the quality of these products, stream them through a cloud service (and please, produce a generous effort on iDisk and Mobile Me). Besides, if I was granted a fourth wish, I’d definitely put a coin on DropBox, but that’s another story.