Analysts: Apple, Sun a good fit

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Once every couple of years, if not sooner, stories pop up that Sony or Disney will buy Apple. But in a Reuters news story, it's speculated that Sun Microsystems might consider buying Apple.

The story predicts mergers and/or slow deaths for some makers of personal computers in an industry "with slowing growth and maturity." Apple's not a good match-up with most other computer makers, however, since it doesn't use Windows as an operating system and has a Power PC microprocessor. However, network computer maker Sun might be interested, according to such analysts as Michael Kwatinetz, a managing partner at San Francisco-based investment fund Azure Capital and former Wall Street financial analyst with Credit Suisse First Boston.

"Apple has got that sort of a unique nichy workstation-type aura to it. They would be a good complement to Sun as a Sun segment. Depends how cheap they are,'' Martin Reynolds, PC analyst at market researcher Gartner Dataquest, told Reuters.

As far as other vendors go, the Reuters story said that Dell wasn't likely to merge with another Wintel manufacturer, but that IBM could exit the PC business altogether.

"IBM could potentially spin off or unload its PC division," said Reynolds, who listed Dell, Compaq, and Hewlett-Packard as potential buyers. "I would put first bet on Dell and offer some space to Compaq."

The Reuters report said that Gateway, "which is squarely set in the troubled U.S. consumer PC market," was the most likely acquisition target, analysts and bankers said. Japanese companies, Japanese-German joint venture Fujitsu Siemens Computer, and Taiwan's Acer were seen as potential partners or buyers for Gateway, analysts told Reuters. Toshiba and NEC were also listed as potential buyers as they "have been dying to get into the US market."

The last acquisition of one PC company by another was early in 1998, when Compaq bought Digital Equipment Corp. for more than $9 billion.

Of course, this isn't the first time that a Sun-Apple merger has been mentioned. Such speculation also arose in the Gil Amelio period (before Steve Jobs' return and pre-iMac).

Personally, this reporter is predicting an Apple-Sun-Disney-Pixar-Sony merger into a massive conglomeration (take that, AOL and Time-Warner). Remember: you heard it here first.

This story, "Analysts: Apple, Sun a good fit" was originally published by PCWorld.

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