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By Jason Snell for Macworld
Sometimes we go astray by confusing entertainment for value. In sports, it’s a draft or (in the case of this past Tuesday in Major League Baseball) a trade deadline that provides some entertainment-who will go where?!-but in the end, very little nourishment. The sound and fury you just witnessed don’t quite signify nothing, but what they signify won’t be known for months or years.
This happens in business, too. I’m thinking about it because of an exchange in last week’s Apple conference call with analysts. Piper Sandler analyst Harsh Kumar asked Tim Cook if, since stock prices have crashed for a lot of companies, Apple was specifically looking to acquire companies to grow its services business.
“We always look and we ask ourselves how strategic it is,” Cook replied. “And we never buy just to buy or buy just for revenue purposes. But we would buy something that is strategic for us. To date, we have concentrated on smaller IP and people acquisitions. But I wouldn’t rule anything out for the future. And obviously, we are constantly surveilling the market.”
Now, Apple has a lot of money. It could buy just about anything if it wanted to. But its track record largely involves buying unknown companies and quietly swallowing them whole, leaving no trace of their existence. In other words, not entertaining. I’m sure Kumar didn’t mean it this way, but so much speculation about Apple potentially buying companies is about how exciting or spectacular it would be, not whether it makes any business sense.