How Should Apple Spend Its $117 Billion in Cash?

What could Apple buy with its cash hoard of $117 billion? Andrew Ross Sorkin, editor of the Dealbook at The New York Times, offers six suggestions:

1) NUANCE This is the one no-brainer on the list. Nuance, based in Burlington, Mass., provides much of the speech recognition technology behind Apple’s Siri and dictation functions. Right now, Apple has merely licensed it and integrated it into both its mobile devices like iPhones and iPads as well as its new Macintosh operating system. Most users think it is Apple technology, but those services wouldn’t work without Nuance.

2) RESEARCH IN MOTION Yes, this one may be a head-scratcher, considering that the iPhone seems to have eaten RIM’s BlackBerry for breakfast — and lunch. But with a marke value of $3.7 billion it is a relative bargain and could be had for four weeks’ worth of Apple’s spare cash).

Such a deal would instantly put Apple into the enterprise market, giving it access to corporate and government customers that require RIM’s highly secure servers. Apple could build access into RIM’s network directly into future iPhones and maybe even create an iPhone with BlackBerry’s famous keyboard, which for many of us would create the ultimate smartphone.

3) SPRINT Yes, the phone company. This might seem the most out-there idea. But it solves many of Apple’s biggest problems.

Such a deal would give Apple its own wireless network, which it could upgrade to become the ultimate high-speed wireless carrier in the country. It could eventually use the network to bypass the cable operators to deliver content directly to the home on multiple devices, including the product that everyone speculates is on its way: a TV device.

With a stock market value of $13.5 billion, Sprint can be purchased for a song. Apple could easily spend four times more than that — say, $50 billion — to build out the Sprint network and turn it into a showcase for the next generation mobile technology. Apple could still offer its devices on other carriers, but its premium product would exist on its own network.

All good ideas. But the best one offered is Twitter.

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