Apple could have its eye on acquiring another company, a relatively rare event for the technology giant despite its enormous cash reserves.
The possible target in question is Anobit, an Israeli firm specializing in flash storage. The rumor originated at TechCrunch, which put the possible asking price at between $400 million and $500 million. An in-house hub for developing flash technology (and the patents underlying it) would certainly boost Apple's efforts in mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad.
According to analysts, Anobit and Apple already have a relationship.
"If true, this deal would make strategic sense to us considering [Apple's] philosophy of vertical integration (e.g., PA Semi acquisition, etc.) and current use of Anobit's technology," Brian Marshall, an analyst with the ISI Group, wrote in a Dec. 13 research note. "We believe Anobit's key asset is their embedded consumer flash controller technology called MSP (e.g., memory signal processing) used in smartphones and tablets (e.g., 666 MB/s data transfer, low power, supports 256GB or 16 flash dies and <20nm MLC/TLC technologies."
In the two months since the death of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, analysts and pundits have prodded the company's every move, searching for clues about how current leader Tim Cook will lead and make decisions. If Cook indeed engages in several large acquisitions in short order, it would mark something of a sea change from Jobs, who spaced out his buys and kept them relatively low-profile.
In October, rumors leaked that Apple had acquired a 3D-mapping company, C3 Technologies, with an eye toward buttressing its topographical capabilities. That news arrived courtesy of the blog 9to5Mac, which suggested that the C3 purchase, combined with earlier acquisitions of mapping-software companies Placebase and Poly9, meant Apple was trying to wean its iOS devices off Google Maps.
Despite pressure from Google Android, iPhone and iPad sales remain strong. For its fiscal 2011 fourth quarter, Apple reported revenues of $28.27 billion, with a net profit of $6.62 billion, a marked increase over the year-ago quarter's $20.34 billion in revenue and $4.31 billion net profit.
Indeed, Apple has more than enough cash reserves to engage in several high-profile purchases. The question is whether Apple's executive core sees such purchases as necessary for its products to maintain or increase their respective market shares.