What Apple could have bought with its $100 billion cash

Summary:$100 billion is an impossible amount to own. Bill Gates, once the world's richest man, only had two-thirds of Apple's current cash reserve. Here's what Apple could have bought.

What would you do with $100 billion? Would you swim in a bath of dollar notes, or would you buy a mansion for every one of your friends? You could travel into space as a tourist, or give it away to charity.

$100 billion would be almost impossible to blow in a lifetime for any ordinary person. Even for a company, it wouldn't be the easiest thing to do, and we're not just talking about buying, hiring and acquiring.

Just look at Research in Motion, or Yahoo.

Apple today said it will give company investors a dividend --- a chunk back of their money --- to say thanks, and plans to buy back stock worth $10 billion.

But it missed a few opportunities. While the company is far from philanthropic, its cash reserves alone could have fed all 6 billion people in the world for a week.

Apple could have done so much with its $100 billion cash reserves, but instead decided to give it back to investors. I'm not saying for a second it was a bad decision, but I personally wouldn't mind travelling to space one day.

Here's what Apple could have done with its current cash reserve:

Give $100 one-time dividend for every Apple shareholder, which could have given investors back millions of dollars. Instead, Apple is giving a dividend of $2.65 per share sometime from July 1 onwards. It's far from being a bad deal, though.

Invest in 200 million iPads for every U.S. school and college student, with enough left over for a dedicated iPad for every classroom in the country. Education is our future investment, and if tablets are the next best thing to reinvigorate our kids into reading again, then it can't be a bad thing.

Buy 400 billion individually wrapped Twinkie's that could feed billions for weeks, or millions for all of 25 days. While the theory goes that Twinkie's could survive nuclear blasts, their shelf life is officially less than a calendar month. Shame.

Buy 33.3 billion Starbucks caffé lattes. Coffee keeps the world turning over, particularly the United States, which seems to drink more coffee than the English drink tea. And I should know. I'm drinking a brew as I write this.

Buy a pre-IPO Facebook, and turned it into an even better social network. At an estimated $82 billion, the world's most popular social network could be bought with plenty left over. Apple has "helped" Facebook in the past, particularly during its early days, and could have reaped its reward in advertising sales; something its own iAd platform never accomplished.

Pay off the UK's budget £43.94 billion ($69.6 billion) deficit and with plenty left over. Private companies often ease the burden on public services, like prisons to healthcare, education and maintenance. Imagine if the White Cliffs of Dover had an Apple logo tattooed onto it? It would certainly make the French think twice before invading us --- again.

Buy 59 gift-wrapped Space Shuttle Endeavours, which would be seemingly pointless as NASA scrapped its shuttle venture late last year in favour of a new rocket. Apple could go into the space tourism business, or

Buy 3,600 islands worth $25 million each, like Dark Island, Vermont. Every "evil" company needs a lair to conduct mischief, and plot crimes against humanity --- even if it is in the form of shiny, pretty gadgets.

Acquire (and fire) Yahoo, and Research in Motion, and don't they need it. While Yahoo battles Facebook over poxy patents as it barely has its head above the surface, and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is no better off, Apple could swoop in and save the two from certain doom.

Give every U.S. citizen a months worth of gasoline. With rising gas and diesel prices, Apple could pull off a philanthropic move of mammoth proportions and ultimately save hundreds if not thousands for each U.S. citizen. The rush to the pumps however would probably cause a speed-up in oil production, which would then have a lasting effect on the environment. A good deed ill-fated, perhaps.

Pay off the pirates, again --- because Apple has already crafted an ingenious plan with its iTunes Match service to 'legitimise' a pirate music collection for $25 a year, with proceeds going back to the record companies. According to sister site CNET, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) said illegal file-sharers cost the economy $100 billion a year. Businesses would be wealthy again, but the 'problem' of piracy would persist.

Bail out Greece, which has a debt of around €130 billion ($172 billion). It would be enough to give the Mediterranean country a second lease of life --- provided the Greeks actually start paying tax. Apple could throw its cash reserves into the country, and in return, it could probably convince the government to call the country "iGreece". Maybe, anyway.

$323 tax rebate to every U.S. citizen, which would ironically almost be enough for every U.S. citizen to buy an older iPad 2. Apple would lose out only by a fraction, and would make back most of it in profits. Genius.

Every NFL team three times over, as the average football team is worth around a billion dollars. There are only 32 football teams in existence, giving Apple money left over to throw each team --- and their fans --- a full-day party. Plus, the investment would be well in Apple's favour, with a steady revenue stream coming in from visitors, fans, merchandise sales, and sponsorship deals.

Image credit: James Martin/CNET.

Related:

Topics: Apple, Banking, Government : US, Mobility, Security

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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