Should IBM buy Apple Computer and throw their weight behind Mac OS X?

“In the computer industry, some ideas come around again and again. With the industry a-buzz that IBM might be willing to ditch its $11 billion desktop and laptop PC business for a paltry $1 billion to $2 billion, some people are beginning to murmur, half in jest that this might actually be a precursor to Big Blue’s acquisition of Apple Computer,” Computer Business Review Online writes. “If IBM had the Personal Computer to do all over again, there seems little doubt that it would not have been stupid enough to outsource the core chip and software architecture to Intel Corp and to rely on a tiny company then called MicroSoft for the operating system on its PC line.”

Computer Business Review Online writes, “No, if IBM had it to do all over again, it would have created something very much like Apple [Macintosh]. Apple machines are a high-priced variant of a pervasive idea (a desktop or a laptop) that has elegance, style, and a lot of very clever engineering. The IBM mainframe, the IBM System/38 and AS/400, and the Digital VAX, and the Sun Microsystems workstation had exactly the same attributes in their eras (and retain these features). To this day, all of these platforms are beloved despite the bashing and battering they take from competitive products. They have an almost cult status. If IBM could make money selling iPods, iMacs, Power Macs, and even Xserves – and there is a possibility that IBM could do this – then it is something worth consideration.”

MacDailyNews Note: Macs are not “high-priced.” Everything in this article about Apple seems to have been written by someone just thawed from a deep freeze that began circa 1995. You’ll have to update the Apple info in your heads as you read. The Apple understanding is so old, that at this rate, the article’s writer will probably portray Steve Jobs as a hot-headed, egotistical liability. Still, the article is interesting, just full of older, outdated beliefs about Apple – like the writer forgot about them in 1995 and then, poof, finds that Apple’s back and they have to write about them today!

Computer Business Review Online writes., “The main reason that IBM could make money making these machines is simple: the spread between what it costs IBM to make a Power processor for Apple and the price it charges Apple is profit that could fall to IBM’s bottom line if such a merger or acquisition could be accomplished. This is probably not a lot of money – at best probably a couple hundred bucks per chip at the rate of a about 2 million a year. Call it $400 million. Is that much profit worth a merger with a company you would probably have to spend at least $35 billion on and put Steve Jobs on the board of directors and as an acting senior vice president?”

“Maybe such a merger makes sense for other reasons. For one thing, IBM wants and needs to boost the demand for Power chips and Linux needs a better front end than Gnome or KDE. Mac OS X is essentially FreeBSD Unix with the MacOS graphical user interface from years gone by grafted on top. It is a very good system, and arguably the best Mac operating system Apple ever put on the market,” Computer Business Review Online writes. “Apple Macs are as secure as Unix, and they run Microsoft Office. This is, in many ways, an ideal platform for commercial computing.”

MacDailyNews Note: Obviously, the Mac OS X GUI is quite different in some respects from the original Mac OS, but in very general terms the description works for this article’s purpose. We have to wonder how long Macs would run Microsoft Office if Apple and IBM teamed up in some way. Microsoft would probably “discover” that their Mac Business Unit was suddenly “no longer profitable” or “worth the effort.”

“IBM has the reach to make Apple pervasive; Apple has the means to make IBM cool… Then, of course, there is the Steve Jobs problem. But if IBM can survive and thrive with Lou Gerstner at the helm for the better part of a decade, it knows how to deal with Apple culture and a hot-headed, egotistical executive like Jobs. And if he got out of hand, IBM’s chairman and CEO, Sam Palmisano, could do what John Scully did back at Apple two decades ago: tell Jobs to go get a new job. He always does something cool whenever he gets fired, whether it is Next Computer or Pixar,” Computer Business Review Online writes.

Full article here.

38 Comments

  1. Why rediculous? ERIC Consider if Apple would lisence a stripped down enterprise version of OSX to IBM – of course these boxes would not be available to consumers. I think that a lot of IT gurus would be very happy with a stable OS that has all the game playing and horsing around features disabled. I could envision a pertnership such as this

  2. Personally I would be very much against Big Blue taking over control of Apple. Some form of joint venture might be cool though. Maybe something akin to the HP iPod deal?

    MDN’s take on the writer being not too well informed on the current state of affairs is right on. Unfortunately it reflects the beliefs and opinons of a large section of the uninformed populace. Most people just do not have a clue.

  3. Why would a billionaire and true entrepreneur like Mr. Jobs play second fiddle to a Mr. Parmesano? And butt heads with the bean counters at the helm of IBM?
    The whole idea that IBM can buy the cool factor is ridiculous. Once Apple is part of the Big Blue, it will cease to be cool.

  4. No way in hell Jobs would ever let this happen. Sure this deal would make sense for IBM but how would this be good for Apple? Oh that’s right it wouldn’t. As hagar said, it will cease to be cool.

  5. A joint venture seems to me like more sense. Unless Apple remained a completely independent division of IBM, it would begin to fall under IBM’s culture, and ultimately destroy what’s kept it afloat, and now has propelled it to a strong company again.
    If Apple can buddy up with IBM as a way to get the business market, it’s a no-brainer. But IBM acquiring Apple, while certainly possible, just doesn’t seem to be a win for Apple… but I’m not a business expert, so maybe it is! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  6. IBM want’s out of the PC business. That’s why they’re putting it up for sale. The article is not a rumor, it’s pure speculation. Every few years this kind of thing is written about. Anything that would transpire would be, as tyk says, a joint venture at most. Silly season indeed.
    For your information, SJ does not have final say on any kind of merger, buyout or whatever. It’s up to the shareholders/board of directors to make the final decision.

  7. Could Apple/IBM put a desktop Aqua ‘skin’ (+ features) onto Linux? and slowly bring them into the fold?

    Is Mr Jobs’ goal limited to Apple or to give the world the best desktop computer experience possible? One of the enjoyable things about Apple-watching is the impression one gets of a pre-formulated ‘goal’ to everything the company does – and everyone else is trying to guess what that goal is and recognise the roads which lead to it. Perhaps there has always been a time in the ‘grand-plan’ when Apple re-aligns itself and merges.

  8. Ive said it before and I will say it again…

    THE STORY IS IBM SELLING ITS NON PROFITABLE PC BUSINESS AND NOT APPLE BEING SOLD!

    THIS IS TYPICAL MDN SPIN!!

    I was a fan of this website – but it has turned into a spin site!

    WHY THE FSCK WOULD APPLE WANT TO BE SOLD WHEN THEIR SHARE PRICE IS THE HIGHEST IN 14 YEARS AND THAT THE COMPANY IS IN THE BEST CONDITION FOR 1O YEARS????

    THIS IS TOTAL BOLLOCKS!

  9. IBM has always had an interest in the NeXT platform but Steve Jobs kept telling them NO! I remember very well the days when IBM desperately wanted to add NeXTStep to it’s cache of operating systems for the POWER line…circa 1993ish. Not sure if there is anything really there regarding the rumor, but if history serves well, then the rumor is plausible.

  10. What is far more likely would be for IBM to become a “Value Added Reseller” of Apple Computers. The combination of IBM sales, service and support with the power, stability and ease of use of the Mac OS would be very powerful.

    One of the biggest standing objections IT managers have to large scale deployment of Macs in the enterprise is professional service and support during deployment and 24/7/365 after the sale. Nobody does computer service better or more widely than IBM. Instant credibility.

    The stupid thing would be to sell out to IBM, the smart thing would be to enlist IBM, HP and others to resell X-Servers and Macs to the commercial market while keeping the consumer and small business markets for the Apple Store and traditional resellers. H-P and IBM are embracing LINUX and have a great number of people who could come up to speed on OS X quickly.

    A One-Two punch of Mac OS X and LINUX with worldwide sales and support would grow Apple into markets it has never been in on a large scale before. The time is right and the hardware and software are ready. If Apple wants to break out of it’s traditional ghetto this is the way forward.

    Finally, Apple has to be bigger than Steve Jobs or any one person and Steve Jobs. Apple has shown repeatedly that it is unable to crack the corporate world in any large and meaningful way, something IBM is the expert at. Windows of opportunity (pardon the pun) like this come along rarely in the market and close quuickly. Partnering with IBM on the enterprise market would be a great big punch in the nose to Microsoft. Things have come full circle.

    Think Different

  11. If OSX is ” FreeBSD Unix with the MacOS graphical user interface from years gone by grafted on top” then Windows is essentially a poor man’s rip-off of a rip-off based on a pre-GUI rip-off of a UNIX wannabe.

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