27 February 2006

Apple to Buy Disney?

According to analysis from Barron's, Apple could buy Disney given that Steve Jobs is now the largest Disney shareholder. I came across this on Marketwatch though I haven't read the full Barron's analysis.

For the life of me, I cannot believe that Apple would be so stupid as to do this. And I think it's more likely this is just a story by a financial M&A type guy rather than anyone with an ounce of business strategy common sense.

What could Apple possibly gain from a Disney purchase? And how could Disney gain? The positives are pretty small when weighed against the negatives. Even deep-pockets Microsoft has not gone in this direction at all and shows no signs of doing so.

One only has to look at Sony to see what a complete disaster it is to be in the business of originating and managing content (via it's Columbia movie and Sony/BMG music brands for instance) at the same time as providing devices/services to enjoy the content. Everything that was innovative about Sony has pretty much disappeared. Fearful of inventihttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifng something that had ramifications for the content side, it has become a mere shadow of its former self. The rootkit debacle is a perfect example where the content tail has wagged the consumer dog. Instead, someone else invents it of course, and the content side ends up having to change anyhow. The restrictions in Blu-ray will severely curtail take-up of this next generation format. Contrast this with the way Sony historically took on the content providers over things like VCRs, and how Sony introduced the CD and, especially, the Walkman.

The financial world works in mysterious ways, so I guess I should never say never. But I think Steve will have a pretty hard time justifying such a move to the faithful. And, that's why I don't think he'll be doing any such thing.

Update: This article at Motley Fool is also damning of such a move, and gives an additional reason, which in my haste I forgot to mention. The gist of that is that if Apple had control of some content, would that make the other content providers more or less inclined to work with the other parts of Apple for distribution? And what would they think about confidentiality when they talked to one part of Apple? While I would hope that the reasons I originally gave are enough, these are even more compelling for why such a move would be a grave error.

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