Monday, May 5, 2008

AAPL & JAVA?

(Note: While this blog will focus on Apple intellectual property, and specifically patents, I will occassionally delve into wider business matters. This is such a post.)

With Sun Microsystems losing nearly one quarter of its value, lowering its market cap to around $10 billion, it becomes interesting to consider whether an Apple / Sun combination would make sense. Key factors:

  • Apple has nearly $20 billion in cash. A Sun acquistion could likely be performed for well below that amount.
  • Sun has a wide server and storage product line. Apple is comparatively limited with XServe.
  • Sun and Apple both have an open standard / open source leaning on the server side.
  • Sun has enterprise sales and service forces that Apple lacks.
  • Sun and Apple are geographically close.
  • Fake Steve Jobs would be happy to see My Little Pony dethroned.

If Apple is serious about an enterprise push, a Sun acquisition could make sense. As corporate desktop users insist on a Mac desktop option, the limitations of Microsoft servers in a mixed environment will become more apparent. A migration to Macs on the corporate desktop will create demand for a more open server infrastructure with better cross-platform support. Sun, especially in Apple's hands, could provide such an infrastructure.

However, would Apple's strengths in industrial design and marketing truly enhance Sun's offerings? I actually suspect so. Having spent a short time working with XServe admin tools, I came away impressed with how much simpler administration was than with corresponding Microsoft or Linux products. Ease-of-use is important in the server room, too.

Apple must have some plans for that pile of cash. If a move to enterprise offerings is on the horizon, it could get an early start with a large cup of JAVA.

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