Apple acquiring Hulu? Don’t bet on it.

Sat, Jul 23, 2011


You know, for as esteemed as they might be, both Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal are fast proving to be less than reliable when it comes to Apple rumors.

Earlier this week, the WSJ ran a sketchily sourced rumor detailing that Apple board members were actively, and sometimes secretly, engaged in preliminary discussions with headhunting firms in an effort to explore finding a suitable successor to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The absurdity of the premise aside (Apple going outside the company to find a successor), the article was published mere hours before Apple released their earnings results for the June quarter.

Also this week, Bloomberg ran a thin piece articulating that Apple was in the running to by Hulu. While Apple was, or perhaps still is, technically interested in talking with Hulu, the Bloomberg story was short on substance and long on speculation.

Now, and really not all that surprisingly, comes a report from All Things D (yes, WSJ affiliated) stating that while Apple has had talks with Hulu, there’s no reason to believe Apple’s involvement is anything more than a passing, perhaps curious, interest in the streaming video site.

Remember, as Kara Swisher wrote earlier this month: “‘In preliminary talks’ = ‘hawking itself to one of a half dozen big moneybag tech companies who will visit with Hulu’s bankers and management to see its presentation at Morgan Stanley’s office in Century City in Los Angeles.’”

Moreover, Peter Kafka points out that Hulu’s entire ad-supported business model just isn’t one of Apple revenue earning competencies. Of course, Apple could purchase Hulu, do-away with the adds, integrate it into the rumored Apple HDTV or something along those lines. Now that certainly would be an interesting value proposition, but we’re not going to put money on that happening anytime soon.

Other companies rumored to have a more serious interest in acquiring Hulu include Yahoo (which would undoubtedly cripple Hulu rather quickly given Yahoo’s track record) and Amazon.

Lastly, it’s getting a tad ridiculous to hear pundits claim Apple should by Hulu, or any other company for that matter, simply because they can afford it. If Apple applied that logic to their acquisition strategy, it’d be no different from the Microsoft of old or the Google of today whereby cool and innovative companies are purchased and ineffectively integrated into the larger company.

Yes, Apple has over $70 billion in the bank, but it got there by being discerning with its acquisitions, not blind. And while Hulu’s video subscription service would be an interesting asset for Apple, the rumored $2 billion asking price would easily make it the largest corporate acquisition in Apple history.

As the magic 8 ball might say, all signs are pointing to no.



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