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A fact of life in business is that most large companies acquire other companies. Sometimes these deals are aimed at taking out a competitor, like when Starbucks bought Seattle’s Best. Sometimes they add complimentary offerings, like when Sears bought Land’s End. And Sometimes they don’t really make sense, like when Daimler Benz bought Chryslers. Often these deals are looked at financially, but there isn’t always a thorough exploration of the impact on the brand.

Since Apple has a war chest of $60 billion, there’s been speculation over whether the company should make more acquisitions. The company does have a history of buying other businesses but they are usually smaller deals aimed at building technological capacity. In 2010, Apple bought Quattro Wireless, Intrinsity, Siri and Poly9. Don’t be embarrassed if you never heard of these, most people haven’t. The question I like to think about is who Apple might buy if they wanted to do a major deal, and how might it affect the brand?

If you’d like to play along, please add your suggestion in the “comments” section.

Here are two to get you started:

Apple + Nikon:

The famous photography company is valued at just under $8 billion, well within Apple’s price range. The brand is know for making superb products for professionals and consumers – just like Apple, and Nikon focuses on a target audience of creative people – just like Apple. There are also some notable synergies. Apple offers two software packages for editing photography: iPhoto and Aperture. Both are superior to Nikon’s own software. Apple also makes the leading video editing software: Final Cut. Nikon’s newest cameras also shoot video. Apple’s latest hardware, including the iPhone, iPod, iPad and Mac computers, all have built in cameras. Unfortunately these cameras aren’t very good. Imagine dropping Nikon cameras into these devices? Overall, I think an Apple/Nikon deal has a lot to offer.

Apple + Nintendo

This is a pricier deal – Nintedo has a market cap of about $30 billion – but this is still well within Apple’s grasp. Apple’s has $60 billion in cash and a market cap of over $300 billion, so if both companies wanted to do the deal it would be easy to pull off. The value? Well both companies are known for innovative, elegant products that challenge industry conventions. When gaming hardware companies were all focused on adolescent boys, Nintendo changed the industry by targeted everyone else with their incredibly popular Wii. And Apple has recently started to wake up to the potential of gaming. It’s AppStore has become one of the largest gaming outlets in the industry. Imagine AppStore for Wii and DS? Seems like an interesting fit.

With both Nikon and Nintendo, I think there’s an ideological harmony, but maybe you disagree. I’d like to hear your opinions and your suggestions for an ideal Apple mash-up. Just use the comment field to join in on the conversation. And if you’re a marketing professor, ask your students what they think and let me know.

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