Having decided to secure the future of its core computer business by putting the system software development for the next generation into a joint venture with IBM Corp, Apple Computer Inc has been spending time considering what it should do next and according to the Wall Street Journal, it has decided that consumer electronics, entertainment […]
Having decided to secure the future of its core computer business by putting the system software development for the next generation into a joint venture with IBM Corp, Apple Computer Inc has been spending time considering what it should do next and according to the Wall Street Journal, it has decided that consumer electronics, entertainment and mobile communications have the most appeal – all of which seems to imply an even closer alliance with Sony Corp. The same edition of the Journal separately highlights the extent that Sony is over-stretched by the debt burden it assumed to acquire Columbia Pictures, and it begins to appear as if Sony has so completely remade its image that today it looks more like a US or European conglomerate than a Japanese one. And that could call into question many of the assumptions made about Sony as a Japanese company, including the one that it is in the computing business with its Unix workstations for the long term. It may find that it simply cannot afford the level of investment required to keep its News family competitive, in which case, Apple would be the most appropriate partner to which to turn to secure the future of that business. Many of the things that Apple is dreaming about are likely to include music, which could lead to further trouble from the Beatles’ barely functioning Apple Corps Ltd company, which settled a legal battle with Apple by persuading the Cupertino company to agree not to use the Apple name on anything with a musical connection – it is already locked in conflict with Apple Computer over the Musical Instrument Digital Interface on the Macintosh. Apple chairman John Sculley told the Journal that among the products he has in mind is a television set that puts the viewer in the director’s seat, with feeds from all the cameras at a sporting event broadcast, enabling the viewer to choose his own camera angles. Among other products on which Apple is actively working are a pocket computer designed for use with cellular tele phone networks: Sony is helping out with that one, as is General Magic Inc, and Apple sees it spawning a whole string of related application-specific portable products. The idea of the Macintosh-based Playstati on, a very basic Mac with a CD-ROM drive that would use Hypercard as the framework of an array of enter tainment and educational programming, has resurfaced, although critics say that at a mooted $600 or so, it would be too expensive to set the mass market alight. In general, Apple is thought to be planning to subco ntract the manufacturing of many of its consumer products – and again, Sony is likely to be the first company to which it turns. Sculley says his long- term goal is to create as much value for Apple shareholders from these diversifications as they currently get from computers, but given the margins on consumer electronics, that would imply that the diversifications would by then be substantially big ger in volume terms than the computer side of Apple.