Apple investors cheer as Jobs wins again by getting Creative

“It’s been a lousy few weeks for Apple. Between an ongoing investigation into its stock options practices and heightened competition in the high-growth digital entertainment market, there’s hasn’t been much for investors to cheer. Till now, that is,” Tim Beyers reports for The Motely Fool.

“On Wednesday, Apple agreed to pay $100 million to settle its legal tussle with Creative Technology over the iPod,” Beyers reports. “Financial details of the agreement weren’t immediately clear, although the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple would record the Creative license as an asset on its balance sheet and then amortize the cost over many years. As a result, the Mac maker expects no material impact to earnings.”

Beyers reports, “But there’s more to this deal than a cheap out from potentially expensive litigation. Creative will join Apple’s ‘Made for iPod’ program by certifying earphones, headphones, and other future products for the iconic music player. And that should lead to revenue for Apple. As late as October, News.com was reporting that Apple demands a royalty equal to 10% of the wholesale price of ‘Made for iPod’ products.”

“What’s more, Apple is allowed to recoup costs if others agree to license Creative’s patent. Will there be other deals? It’s a good bet Creative will try to secure some,” Beyers reports. “Plus, there are plenty of targets, with the biggest and most obvious being Microsoft. Its planned Zune player is expected out before the holiday season. Creative could get ahold of a beta version of the device and, if there’s evidence of a patent violation, file suit and petition for an injunction.”

Beyers reports, “Apple would love nothing better, of course. But even if Mr. Softy and other i-wannabes avoid the courts, they’re unlikely to avoid the extra time and expense of working around Creative’s patent. That, too, is a win for the Mac maker. Well done, Steve.”

Full article here.
As is usually the case, Beyers gets it.

Related articles:
Creative says they will continue making new Zen MP3 player models – August 24, 2006
Apple and Creative settle – the bigger picture – August 24, 2006
Creative Tech shares surge in early trading, Apple also up – August 24, 2006
Creative Tech’s investors cheer iPod decision but company’s woes far from over – August 24, 2006
Analyst: Apple’s relatively small settlement with Creative removes threat hanging over iPod – August 23, 2006
Apple & Creative settle: Apple pays $100M for ‘Zen’ patent, Creative plans iPod accessories – August 23, 2006

20 Comments

  1. Man, I’d hate to play chess with Jobs! What a “creative” solution. As usual Apple’s nimble moves enables this deal to have far reaching effects for the entire industry, far beyond just settling a lawsuit between A and C. Checkmate!

    Unlike M$ which is hell bent on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

  2. Before the announcement a 51% stake in CREAF would have been about $250 million, or 150 more than Apple paid. I wonder why they didn’t buy it. Fear that the stock would jump far too much on announcement of the purchase? Fear that anti-trust issues would prevent it? Killing your number two competitor while gaining a decent amount of intellectual property for about 3% of your cash on hand seems like it would have been a pretty good deal.

  3. macromancer,

    Apple don’t need to buy the patent.

    If Creative lisences it to anyone else they pay Apple.

    If the patent gets challenged and overturned then Apple can sue for their money back.

    If Apple had bought Creative and the patent gets challenged and overturned then Apple would have paid or nothing.

    Meanwhile as things stand Apple has Creative to do all their dirty work for them and harrass all the competition while they focus on their core businesses.

    Win-win for Apple.

  4. “I hate that Apple gave into these clowns, but at the very least Apple should have just bought the patent outright.”

    They didn’t have to. Don’t forget that Apple has several patents of their own protecting iPod features. Just because another competitor may have to pay Creative for a license, they may also have to work around Apple’s patents as well.

  5. So Apple spends 1.1% of it’s cash horde to Creative. In return they probably get Creative to harass Microsoft. I’d bet Creative is a bit miffed at Microsoft for the dumping of Plays For Sure and going with Zune. In addition Apple probably gets some revenue back through the Made for iPod program with Creative though I doubt Creative is paying the normal 10% rate. Finally, Apple gets some of that 100 million back if Creative can successfully sue Microsoft or some other MP3 manufacturer. I think there is little doubt that Apple won this round.

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