Apple Won't Buy Twitter, But Google Might
The Mac maker is on the list of firms who could/should acquire the social media empire. But Google is a much more likely candidate.
Whenever a major acquisition occurs, the world scrambles to figure out which companies will be acquired next, how much they will sell for, and who will buy them. If a questionable (and currently profitless) firm like Instagram can earn $1 billion just for having 30 million users, surely Twitter -- a growing social media empire with a few hundred million users -- could earn several times that amount.
Regardless of the expense, Ironfire Capital's Eric Jackson thinks that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is the company that is most likely to buy Twitter. He makes some good points, noting that Apple may have already lost an important app to Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) when the company decided to buy Instagram.
"The loss of Instagram doesn't, in itself, diminish the power of iOS," Jackson wrote on Forbes. "But what if Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) bought Twitter tomorrow? And then Facebook bought Yelp? Or Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) bought Square? The mobile world would definitely change over time."
This is very true. And if Apple execs were concerned about this, then Twitter would seem like a natural fit for the iPhone maker. But while Apple may be under new management, it has never been a company that worried about these kinds of big-picture dilemmas. By choosing to pour a ton of money into Twitter today, Apple would pour its confidence in a firm whose future is still uncertain. That's not really the Apple way, now is it?
Apple prefers to acquire smaller, lesser-known entities, such as the team behind Final Cut. When is the last time Apple spent $10 billion on an acquisition? When is the last time the firm spent $5 billion on, well, anything? Spending isn't the Apple way unless it is certain to add to the company's bottom line, hence the reason why Apple spends so much on advertising.
Google, on the other hand, is more than happy to spend $10+ billion on an acquisition. In fact, that's just what it did with Motorola (NYSE: MMI), a company that many argue is a dying beast that offered Google nothing but a series of patents. (Patents that, ironically, may allow Google to extract revenue from Microsoft.)
In any case, Google paid billions to acquire Motorola -- not for the short-term gains but for the future. If Twitter is to become a stellar source for analytics in the future (it already is for one thriving startup), Google will inevitably see the value in acquiring the firm and do everything it can to buy it as soon as possible.
If a bidding war breaks out, which firm do you think is most likely to keep raising its offer until it wins? Not Apple. Not Microsoft. Not Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO), which could not afford to buy Twitter anytime soon. No, the firm that would do whatever it takes to win is Google.
Unlike Apple, which is mostly a manufacturer of hardware, and unlike Microsoft, which focuses on software, Google doesn't sell many things directly to consumers. Rather, Google makes the majority of its money from analytics. That is yet another reason why Google will fight to obtain Twitter.
This, of course, assumes that Twitter wants to be acquired. It could turn out that, just as some other rising tech companies decided to maintain their independence, Twitter may prefer to avoid an M&A.
But if its owners decide to sell, expect Google to be at the forefront of the sale.
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