Snapple (Sun/Apple) pretzel logic

Snapple (Sun/Apple) pretzel logic

Summary: As the summer winds down, the hot breezes in Silicon Valley whisper all kinds of intriguing scenarios into the ears of pundits like John Dvorak. He revives the old Apple/Sun merger on the heels of Google CEO Eric Schmidt joining Apple's board of directors.


As the summer winds down, the hot breezes in Silicon Valley whisper all kinds of intriguing scenarios into the ears of pundits like John Dvorak. He revives the old Apple/Sun merger on the heels of Google CEO Eric Schmidt joining Apple's board of directors. Much has been written (TechMeme) in the last 24 hours commenting on this possibility. Some think they are connecting dots, but it's more a special kind of Silicon Valley Boolean pretzel logic. Sun has an alliance with Google (so far not much to write home about) and Google's CEO Eric Schmidt is on Steve Jobs' board. Dvorak suggests that Schmidt can be the dealmaker and would even be the right person to head up a Snapple.

"...with Eric Schmidt in the game as a middleman it's quite possible that he could take the reins of such a combined operation and make it work. In fact Schmidt is a more natural fit in such an arrangement than he is at Google."


Schmidt got his start at Sun, spending nearly 15 years with the company before a stint at Novell as CEO and then getting the Google gig. He has helped steer Google into the stratosphere, but Steve Jobs is the unquestioned King of Silicon Valley for his turnaround of Apple and Pixar play. Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's relatively new CEO, has made some of the biggest bets in the Valley in driving his company fully open source and evangelizing the idea of Sun as the infrastructure provider for the planet...and building the products. Sun and Google announced a multiyear partnership in October 2005 to help spread and develop each other's software, which includes, OpenSolaris and Java from Sun, and Google's Toolbar. Not exactly a home run. Now Schmidt has an Apple board seat. Is his next play to create or run Snapple as Dvorak suggests? That would be up to Steve Jobs, and you have to ask why he would want to take on Sun as his next project. The two companies share an R&D passion, but it's difficult to imagine Jobs focusing his attention on Sun and infrastructure versus, say, Disney, where he reigns as the largest shareholder, and Apple at the center of digital lifestyles.

Regarding the impact of Schmidt joining Apple's board, Om Malik thinks there is some real juice in the appointment, at Microsoft's expense:

It is hard to argue with the timing of the appointment, despite corporate PR speak. Microsoft’s ZUNE effort is coming soon, and this could mean a long drawn out, and costly skirmish for King Jobs. Bill’s boys are going to spend their enormous hoard of cash to buy into the digital media - music, movies and whatever - space. No one can outspend Microsoft, but one can outsmart them. An Apple-Google informal alliance is one way of taking on Microsoft and its coterie. As Valleywag puts it, “this has to be a lousy day at Microsoft HQ.”

Dana Gardner reflects that Apple will "cede to Google more of the online services world — including the hosting and creation of blogs, websites, business marketing and sales initiatives around ads/search, and productivity apps — and then Google cedes to Apple the music and video sales, as well as the creation of the ecology of controlled content delivered to the mobile-connected iPod/cell phone."

It's also hard to imagine a secret cabal of Google/Apple and via Dvorak Sun and via Jobs' holding, Disney, plotting to become the Microsoft of the first half of the 21st century--a super dominant force with massive share of market and ad dollars that can dominate for next two decades.  Schmidt can be a solid, successful, rich, operationally savvy and plugged addition to Apple's board. His appointment could foster some projects between the two companies, and it will be friendlier between the two, at least for while. Schmidt seems capable of working with talent (Sergey and Larry...and now the true test, Steve Jobs), which is a critical skill in an era in which innovation in several dimensions is requisite for success, as in the case of Apple. But Google ceding to Apple music and video sales to Apple, as Dana suggests, wouldn't be in the best interest of Google shareholders. Apple buying into Google's suite of applications--not any time soon. In fact, most of them need the magic touch of Steve Jobs, who probably finds them aesthetically lame and user unfriendly, to make them more usuable by mere mortals. Of course, a healthy share of ad revenue would be good Apple.

Paul Kedrosky provides the acerbic perspective:

Given that it is the leaders of two of the stronger cults of personality in the Valley coming together, it might better be described as the heads of two particularly funky New Age cults finding one another on a long weekend at Esalen. Sure, it feels earth-shattering to the true believers, but the rest of us can be forgiven for having little interest in all the over-aggrandized silliness being spewed. 

Topic: Apple

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  • There is nothing here...

    ... not even smoke. BTW, it would be ridiculous to suggest that Apple would bring in a director to facilitate a merger with his former employer! Or to use his unremarkable leadership at Novell in fighting Microsoft...and over what? Apple does darn well, far, far better than Novell did against MSFT.
    • I think this is just another person to work for Apple and get paid

      If people thought like that you would see Al Gore as being Apple's
      ticket to getting the benefits that Haliburton gets now. Al Gore
      couldn't even get Apple a good environmental rating even though
      Al Gore's big environmental movie was made on a Mac. Intuit's CEO
      sits on Apple's board and Apple can't even get an up to date
      version of Quick Books. Of course there are relationships to be had,
      although it may be more of a case of Steve Jobs keeping his friends
      close and his enemies closer. A Tony Soprano quote, "The guys I
      work with are a bunch of Jackals,"
  • well add Ibm and we could have a major opponent to M$

    this could mean a real fight where no punch are pull a real slug fest
    • But in a case like that

      each company alone is a better company then the 3 combined.

      If they all did merge, they would all disapear.
      John Zern
    • Childish name calling?

      Give up the childish name calling - the name is MS or Microsoft.

      Or perhaps I should start using Eunuchs?
      • Now come on!

        As instults go M$ is fairly mild don't you think. Heck since MS has
        soooooo much money and power in the industry M$ might not
        even be and insult but rather an accurate description of her status
        in the technology market place.

        Pagan jim
  • Hello??? Trademark violation!

    You must be tempting fate. Snapple is a trademarked beverage name. You have no right to use it in the context of Apple and Sun. You need to come up with a different phrase, and quick, before it catches on and you're in legal trouble.....
    • As long as it doesn't

      have the word "Pod" in it...
      John Zern
  • A bit far fetched

    Large companies exchange board members all the time and I'm sure you could play the equivalent of the Kevin Bacon game to link any two major corporations in not too many steps.

    There is an employee of Intuit on Sun's board and on Apple's board so are Intuit also involved in brokering this deal?
  • board shuffling = business as usual

    I'm having a lot of trouble believing that there's anything significant to this. American corporate boards have a long history of appointing members to each others' boards. Your board always looks better if you can score some other large company's CEO to sit at the table; as a CEO I want the added publicity (and income!) from serving on other boards.

    What seems to make it newsworthy is that the two companies involved (Apple and Google) are in many ways the two most innovative companies in the IT space right now. So they get a lot of visibility and way too much microanalysis of their small moves. But it's easier for me to believe that Steve just did Eric a favor, and vice versa.
  • Solution to the problem of Ipod Linux interop?

    Could such a merger bring a solution to the oft mentioned problem of ipod's pricy DRM and Linux's open source nature?
  • Zune? is that a word? sounds stupid ...

    MS and the zune thing are the perefect example of why MS should die. They think that they can just buy their way into something that others got into through thought, inspiration, tenacity, invention, genius and moxey. The zune will cost them billions and make them millions.
    Reverend MacFellow
    • Just like the iPlod

      Crapple and the iPlod are the perfect example of why Crapple should die. They think they can monopolise the market on portable MP3 players and the store to buy legally downloadable music and then refuse to licence the technology to anyone. The iPlod will cost them billions and make them... oh wait...

      Lay off the drugs, MacFreak.
      • Bitter Little Man

        It's a shame that your favorite platform doesn't actually do the job,
        eh? Doesn't mean you have to burn down everyone else's
        enjoyment. I've seen dozens of MS zealots <i>actually</i> start
        using a Mac instead of criticizing it from afar and - guess what -
        they bought one for themselves within a year, drop kicked their XP
        machines and ususally got an iPod along with it. It just works, my
  • Go back to your cult

    We only have personal computing because of MS. As for Zune - another rebadged MP3 player just like Apple's - big deal. Just get a decent phone and you wont have to carry an iPod.
    • Jack of all trades master of none...

      Swiss Army Knife big bulky and I suppose it works for some but I
      prefer the single bladed Gerber sleek and effecdtive.

      So the Phone that can take picutures and play music and do
      what ever else is not all that interesting to me.

      As for MS and personal computers was not Apple and some
      others with CP/M and such out there first? So why would MS
      purchasing the rights to a CP/M upgrade called DOS have made
      the difference? I think it was IBM getting into the game that
      more or less legitimized the industry however even then I think
      without IBM or MS the Personal Computer Revolution would have
      marched on just slower I think to pick up steam.

      Pagan jim
      • I concur

        MS brought very little technology to the table. Their initial
        strength was corralling someone else's technologies and making
        them work on other platforms. Once IBM approached MS with
        the PC project, that's all MS did again - got an off the shelf
        technology and plugged it in. DOS was QDOS (Quick and Dirty
        Operating System) which was a rip of CP/M.

        Now that MS had visibility through the IBM PC, the history of MS
        after that followed the same model only bigger - purchase, hire
        or steal ideas from everyone else, modify it to work on the
        platform they were smart enough to only <i>license</i> and tie
        it together with everything else they purchased or co-opted.

        It was Compaq stripping away the relevence of IBM's
        architectural control of the PC that made MS what it is today but
        they still didn't innovate. You can trace back the code bases of
        almost everything MS makes. Original Windows came from the
        Macintosh (not flame bait - they never even saw an Alto), NT/
        95/98/XP came from OS/2, MSSQL came from Sybase, Explorer
        was Mosaic, WMP was someone else's (they abandoned VFW/
        VCM), even Word came from Xerox's Bravo application on the

        As MS got more powerful, everything after that was marketing,
        turd polishing, bullying of competitors, FUD and dressing up
        DOS in a colorful clown suit for the general public. There was
        very little real innovation at Microsoft but there was a keen
        sense of creating a unified platform from disparate technolgies
        as clunky as it is. I'm speaking of MS in the past tense as they're
        quickly becoming irrelevant and redundant in the face of actual
        innovators gaining a voice in the public's eye.
    • MS was only a bit player - past tense

      We only have personal computing because of thousands of
      contributors and, based on who actually innovated anything, MS
      was only a bit player. They just knew how to <i>sell</i> it.