The Null Device


In the latest round of the what-will-Apple-do-next? game, there is some speculation that Apple may team up with (or buy) RIM, the inventors of the BlackBerry wireless email appliance. The logic, apparently, is obvious:
Such a deal would have huge merit because each company lacks what the other provides. RIM wants a firm foothold in the consumer market and Apple doesn't have a presence in the booming wireless data sector, he said.
The two might jointly develop a new device: Apple could create a cellphone combining its iPod music device with RIM's wireless technology, or RIM might embed Apple's iTunes music into a future BlackBerry, he speculated.
Of course, one could apply this argument to virtually anything. Let's see: I predict that Apple may buy BMW. Why? It's simple; the two companies complement each other. Apple lacks a firm foothold in the automotive market, and BMW doesn't have a presence in the digital technology sector. The two might jointly develop in-car entertainment and navigation based on Apple's massively successful iPod standard and/or MacOS X. And then there are the opportunities for aligning the Mac Mini and Cooper Mini brands.

And so on. Replace BMW with another company name, especially one selling desirable lifestyle/consumer goods or services, and the rest of the copy writes itself. And if you suspend disbelief for long enough (easy enough to do whilst salivating over the prospect of shiny new Apple-branded versions of your favourite non-Apple products), it makes enough sense.

Of course, this wouldn't be the first time that Apple inked a deal with another brand. There was the Motorola ROKR, vaunted as an "iPod Phone", but being merely a generic Motorola phone which could connect to iTunes, and on top of that being artificially restricted to 100 songs, as Apple didn't want it cannibalising their iPod market. Needless to say, it got all the success it deserved and died quietly.

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