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..." Doubters will point to Apple’s time-tested ability to innovate in a way that has kept its operating system and user interface ahead of Windows since the dawn of PC-time. But to not have faith in Microsoft is one thing. To not have faith in the highly motivated open-source movement and all those behind it (Red Hat, SuSE, Sun, etc.) to bring desktop Linux up to speed is misguided. They’re the underdog. Never underestimate the underdog.
The question then becomes, what will happen when that day arrives? Will Apple have built such a large entertainment business that it might be willing to let the systems business die on the vine? Or, will it finally cough up an Intel-based version of OS X? Or, as I fantasized in a recent column, is there some crazy mixed up world where Apple ends up merging with another Unix server specialist like Sun with the end result being a magical blend of GNU/Linux, OS X, and Solaris that’s compatible with AMD and Intel, that’s light years ahead of any other desktop *ix on the market, that provides a killer platform for running and developing Java, and that affords the Apple technology a re-entrance into the corporate market through Sun’s customer base. Even I have to admit that the idea is crazy. But, in response to my column, my e-mail suggests that there are people who will get in whatever line they have to in order to get access to such a technology.
Stranger things have happened."


"Since I love wild speculation, allow me to embellish. Perhaps IBM needs to hedge in the event that some combination of intellectual property lawsuits ends up in the death of Red Hat. By not buying Red Hat, IBM gets to minimize its legal exposure while offering Linux-based solutions that target its nemeses Microsoft and Sun. By virtue of precedent, anything that kills Red Hat would also leave Novell mortally wounded (down, but not out). Nothing would leave IBM more exposed than a fatal blow to Red Hat. Enter Apple. As said earlier, it and IBM already share a passion for the PowerPC processor and Apple has some very slick servers and storage solutions (so slick that sed the storage gear). Also, given IBM's resources, the engineering work to swap the much more legally secure OS X for Linux would be child's play (perhaps it will also ring the cash register for IBM's Global Services division). Finally, a joint venture between Apple and IBM could flush out the oft-rumored OS X-on-Intel skunkworks project, thus giving IBM a much stronger and fully indemnified Intel-based desktop offering than what it currently has in Lotus Workplace.

Off the two longshot options -- acquisition vs. joint venture -- a JV is the more likely. I can't imagine Steve Jobs as an employee of IBM, nor can I imagine IBM running a bunch of retail stores. Big Blue has always failed at selling to consumers (should we dredge up the history of the Lotus acquisition?) and its ownership of Apple would almost certainly kill the company.

Isn't speculation fun?"

Ideas & Speculations by David Berlind.

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