Apple acquisition rumors that never materialized, from Disney to Sun and Pixar to Sony

Fri, Aug 5, 2011

News, Rumors

One of the strangest Apple rumors we’d ever seen was last weeks BGR story claiming that Apple was interested in purchasing Barnes & Noble.

We’re not giving this rumor much credence as Apple is notoriously averse to big time acquisitions and prefers to develop technology in-house whenever possible. Still, Apple has been at the forefront of a number of absurd acquisition rumors that, not surprisingly, never pan out.

You’d think that pundits would realize by now that Apple’s corporate acquisitions are typically small, strategic, and downright surgical in nature.

Looking back over the past few years, Harry McCracken of Technologizer compiled a list of some of the more eye catching Apple acquisition rumors that expectedly never materialized into anything beyond a intriguing headline.

In 2003, Apple was supposedly interested in buying Universal Music. One year later, Pixar was reportedly on Steve Jobs’ radar.

Then there were acquisition rumors involving TiVo, Palm, Disney, Nintendo, and even Sun!

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

There was speculation that Apple would purchase AMD. That, of course, was when it wasn’t interested in acquiring Yahoo!. In 2008 Robert Cringley said that Apple would purchase Adobe, which was arguably more believable than Apple supposedly buying Sony. In 2009, rumors that Apple was on the cusp of buying both EA and Twitter made the rounds. And more recently, rumors circulated indicating that Apple was considering making a bid for Hulu.

The most egregious offender, however, was an October 2010 article from that offered the following headline: “Wall Street thinks Apple may buy EA, Sony, Netflix, Facebook or Disney.” Wow. Way to hedge your bets there.

In other news, most people on Wall Street are apparently idiots.

With billions in the bank, Apple can certainly acquire almost any company it wants. But Apple’s selective and isn’t prone to making acquisitions on a whim a’la Google or the Microsoft of yore. Apple doesn’t purchase companies based on hype, and won’t think twice about passing up a company with cool technology if it doesn’t fit into Apple’s long-term product roadmap.

Also, remember that Apple’s cheap. Uhh, err, I mean cost conscious. It’s most expensive acquisition to date was its 1997 purchase of NeXT for $404 million. In contrast, take a look at Microsoft’s $8.5 billion purchase of Skype. That said, rumors of Apple placing a $1 billion+ bid for Hulu seems utterly laughable.


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