Sometimes rumors are so crazy that they just might be true.
Vague but pointed remarks by Steve Jobs during his surprise appearance on the Apple conference call has led to some speculation that Apple may be considering buying - of all things - Facebook. Peter Kafka at the Wall Street Journal's All Things D blog points out that Apple has a whopping $51 billion in the bank and that they could afford to buy the social networking giant when it goes public.
When asked yesterday on the earnings call why Apple shouldn't return some of its huge pile of cash to shareholders in the form of dividends, Jobs replied as follows:
We strongly believe that one or more very strategic opportunities may come along, that we are in a unique position to take advantage of because of our strong cash position. You know, we've demonstrated a strong track record of being very disciplined with the use of our cash. We don't let it burn a hole in our pocket, we don't allow it to motivate us to do stupid acquisitions. And so I think that we'd like to continue to keep our powder dry, because we do feel that there are one or more strategic opportunities in the future. That's the biggest reason.
Additionally, there's significant synergy. The Facebook app for iPhone has been estimated to be one of the most used apps on the iPhone, with over 100 million active monthly users. David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect, claims that he has heard from "someone who thought he knew the data that more than half of all usage of the iPhone of apps, other than those provided by the phone itself like telephony and email, is coming from Facebook."
It's pure speculation, again, so it's wise to not put a whole lot of stock in these rumors. On the other hand, there was word last week that Steve Jobs had Mark Zuckerberg over for dinner. There have been no reports on what they discussed at the supposed meeting, but many speculated that it had to do with Facebook-Ping integration. It would be very interesting if the "integration" they were talking about was at a very different level.