Gone are the days of the Mac being the technology sector's punchbag; the success of the iPod has made Apple a global success - and they're only getting stronger with follow-up brands such as the iPhone and iPad. Basically, anyone in the technology sector is watching what Apple do next. And it's keeping a lot of managers awake at night.
The people working at Apple are sleeping soundly, mind. Why? Because they are rich. $51 billion rich to be precise. That's how much money the company have to throw around right now, and they've got some pretty high-priority targets on their take-over list.
Steve Jobs spoke about spending some of those riches last week:
"We strongly believe that one or more very strategic opportunities may come along, that we can take, that we're in a unique position to take advantage of because of our strong cash position," he told investors.
"So I think that we would like to continue to keep our powder dry because we do feel that there are one or more strategic opportunities in the future."
The Wall Street Journal hints that some of those "strategic opportunities" might purport to video games. In fact the Kaufman Brothers have tipped Electronic Arts as a take-over target, alongside Netflix and Facebook.
But leading financial magazine, Barron, is shooting a bit higher, suggesting that Apple "could acquire Adobe Systems, Sony, or even Walt Disney."
Hold up? What the heck?! Crazy with a capital "C", right?
According to some low-level number crunching, Apple could afford Sony, but it's hard to understand what they'd get out of it. A big chunk of Sony's output is cross-over with Apple's own, and the latter are winning that particular war, so it's unlikely Sony's electronics portfolio could strengthen Apple in any meaningful way. Then again, Sony are in charge of (arguably) the best range of televisions on the market with the Bravia range and their movie and music connections would also add new fingers to Apple's pie.
Of course, the gaming sector would likely be of most interest to Apple, with a PlayStation still a very dominant brand in the industry. SCE's first-party portfolio could feasibly give Apple its own development suite, but this all sounds extremely unlikely to us. Too much of Sony's value would have to be squandered in order for Apple to get to the core of what they want. And seeing as both brands are synonymous with the same products and market, it's hard to understand what the company would get out of the acquisition from a branding point of view.
Now if you'd told us Sony and Google were about to join forces, we'd take much less convincing.