Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

What Apple has bought, and what it hasn't

May 6, 2009: 9:36 AM ET

apple-fail-whale1Two lists crossed my desk that say volumes about the silly rumor that swept through the blogosphere Tuesday like a Mexican flu: that Apple (AAPL) is in "serious negotiations" to buy Twitter.

The first, courtesy of Technologizer's Harry McCracken, recaps a dozen other companies Apple was supposedly about to buy. The second, straight from Wikipedia, is the list of recent Apple acquisitions that actually occurred. Without further ado...

McCracken's Apple acquisitions that aren't going to happen:

Wikipedia's List of mergers and acquisitions by Apple:

  • 1997 Next (programming services). Value: $404 million
  • 1997 Power Computing (cloned computers). Value: $100 million
  • 1999 Xemplar Education (software). Value: $5 million
  • 1999 Raycer Graphics (graphic chips). Value: $15 million
  • 2000 NetSelector (Internet software). Value: NA
  • 2001 Astarte (DVD authoring software). Value: NA
  • 2001 Source Technologies (graphics software). Value: NA
  • 2001 PowerSchool (online info systems services). Value: $62 million
  • 2002 Nothing Real (special effects software). Value: $15 million
  • 2002 Zayante (software). Value: $13 million
  • 2002 Silicon Grail Corp-Chalice (digital effects software). Value: NA
  • 2002 Emagic (music production software). Value: $30 million
  • 2006 Silicon Color (software). Value: NA
  • 2006 Proximity (software). Value: NA
  • 2008 P.A. Semi (semiconductors). $268 million

See the disconnect?

The first list is made up entirely of high-profile companies with huge price tags whose acquisition by Apple -- with a cash reserve of nearly $29 billion -- would make for juicy copy. As Good Morning Silicon Valley's headline puts it: "Apple's cash burning a hole in rumor mill's pocket."

But judging from the second list, those are precisely the kind of purchases Apple is least likely to make. "Apple's business philosophy," as the Wikipedia entry succinctly puts it, "is to acquire small companies that can be easily integrated into existing company projects."

"Twapple" is just not the kind of thing they drink in Cupertino.

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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