Would a merger of
AOL Time Warner
make sense? One online columnist thinks so.
MSNBC columnist Elliot Zaret, writing in an
online column, thinks the computer maker would be a good fit for the media giant because of its superior QuickTime technology and the need for the recently merged media giant to have its own brand name media player.
“What is the one thing Apple has that AOL needs?” Zaret asks. “The biggest thing AOL needs that it doesn’t have is a media player to call its own. And Apple has perhaps the best one out there in QuickTime. The media player is the linchpin to AOL’s strategy.”
Zaret believes the AOL Time Warner merger means Apple technology — specifically QuickTime — could be a much-needed product to help steer music, video and movie content. As for hardware and the Mac operating system, he theorizes an iMac, for instance, would be a “loss leader” to sell other services and media content. “Knock $400 off the price of an iMac and you have a $300 media center. Suddenly, Apple’s market share would skyrocket.”
Zaret mentions sources that say AOL is near an agreement to use a “co-branded version of the RealPlayer that would be integrated into AOL,” but he believes such an agreement isn’t in AOLs best interest because RealPlayer would be making most decisions on how media content is controlled. “There’s nothing AOL Time Warner honchos Bob Pittman and Steve Case hate more than having someone else call the shots,” he wrote.
Zaret mentions that such a merger would put AOL Time Warner in the position of owning all the pieces of media content, “from the media to the browser, the media player, the computer and the operating system. That operating system is something AOL needs for future AOL TV set-top boxes and other devices.”
If such a buyout or merger ever did occur, Zaret speculates Apple co-founder and chief executive officer Steve Jobs would leave the company. “It is almost impossible to imagine him taking orders from Case and Pittman,” he wrote.
He writes that “sources close to the company say that AOL is looking at either building its own media player or buying one,” but earlier in his column he clearly states, “I have no special information that the companies are talking or in any way considering this (buying Apple). It’s not even on the level of wild rumor.”