What should Apple do with all that cash?

I was having drinks with a few friends theother night and this came up:

Apple reported quarterly earnings and revenue on Tuesday that barely beat analyst expectations—but its cash hoard is bigger than ever. The company revealed that its cash pile broke $200 billion for the first time, hitting some $203 billion. This is up 5 percent from last quarter, and up 23 percent from last year.Jul 21, 2015 (CNBC)

So, if you could decide or influence, what would you have Apple do with all that?

What would I (as a Designer) do with it, or what should Apple do with it?

Slight nuance on your question but affects my answer.

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I would like them to push the new frontiers of travel, tourism, transportation and experience to hedge/counter the trend in virtual reality. Using AR technology to experience the physical world in new ways has much more benefit than experiencing the inside of a data center. Augmented Reality has more potential than Virtual Reality.

I don’t like Apple carrying so much debt. Since Steve Jobs death, the financial guys have had their way and issued $64 billion in debt to allow their ilk on wall street to sink their teeth into Apple’s success without creating any value what so ever. (Jobs did not allow the financial guys to issue debt on Apple’s balance sheet).

Apple has always had a synergy with education. This is where Apple can combine the merging MOOC space with the physical world and take education the next level.

I can’t believe I am saying this, but if Apple were to get into defense/military they might be able to obsolete the current model that has now become such a cancer. Rethinking what what national defense means and is, might weed out some the the profligate evil that has been allowed to enter the system.

Full disclosure…I stand to inherit a sizable amount of Apple’s stock in the near future.

What would you recommend they do with it. I know you would just go buy an island or something Jon :slight_smile:

One of the things I thought that would be interesting, and impossible to have happen with a public company and a board of directors, is what if they just gave their products a way for a year?

Imagine if they just said everyone who turns 18 year get a free macbook. Just for one year. Who could compete with that? Or if every 12 year old got a free iPad. I’m not sure how the costs would pencil out for the year. In the US, that would be about 4 million 18 year olds. a Mac Book in $1300 retail, so lets say about $600 cost, I don’t know what their margins are, but lets just make a guess. That is $2.4 Billion in cost… OK, maybe that does not make any sense. But maybe in the spirit of it, what if they reduced the price to cost for kids turning 18? Maybe for every kid that gets into college this year so they could track it by enrollment.

Actually, I’d move to either Africa or South America and start developing renewable energy a la Mosquito Coast :slight_smile:

Well, doing a wee bit of math, they could actually give EVERY elementary and secondary student (50.1 Million Students) an iPad Air.

Now, at retail, that is just shy of $20 Billion which leaves them with a measly $180 Billion left over.

Talk about game changing if every student in the USA had access to an iPad? Use another $10 Billion or so to roll out free WiFi in all schools, etc. That is an investment in the country’s future that could elicit massive change.

More or less what Amazon does with their devices. Practically given away (in some cases they were crap to begin with) but lock people into their insanely easy ordering/fulfillment process. After a year, when everyone in the country and Europe has some kind of Apple device, and is stuck using their iCloud, you have a huge install base of revenue. Volume, not margins.

OR they could buy another couple factories so that I could finally have the Apple Pencil I ordered on December 30. :unamused:

Not that making a car isn’t a big hair audacious goal, but I think something like this would really change the game in their core categories unless they see limited potential in those categories due to pressure from Samsung/Android, but I don’t see them viewing the world that way.

Initial thoughts:

If I needed to justify to my shareholders, I would invest a little bit in a lot of projects across the board: furniture, appliances, electronics. Apple would only need to hit on a couple to have a great ROI.

If I felt like I had an almost unlimited amount of goodwill with my shareholders, I would invest in photovoltaics and new anti-biotics.

Not $20B…but I’m sure similar examples could be found at Apple.

Modern Man likes this.

  • advancement in power storage tech and a systematic approach to cleaning up the accumulating plastic/crap floating in our oceans before there’s more floating plastic than live fish.

I’d put it on red, but I’m sure Apple would go black.

With that much money and the current backlash about how the 1% has all the power, I would suggest going into the professional medical market, including communications. Do good. Seems to me that there are still a lot of systems there that can be improved regarding interface, hygiene, cost-effectiveness, etc. Especially in the emerging and third world markets.

A revolution in personal/shared transport would be pretty great too, but it would be a slow change with lots of competitors throwing up roadblocks.

For shorter-term returns and business growth:

  • Just expand faster into the everyday lives of the consumers that are not yet dominated. Like form partnerships and get OS integrated into all major car brands, home systems etc. Take over mobile/online banking industry.

For long-term world changing stuff:

  • Space exploration (for future colonies, mining asteroids etc) - think what Apple could do with their massive resources compared to SpaceX.
  • Biogenetics, pharmaceuticals for beating cancer and other disease that mankind has not yet learned to conquer.

Buy a nice medium sized country in north africa which borders the mediterranian sea. You see where this is going…


Like Coffee87 said, space exploration.

SpaceX, Virgin, and Blue Origin are all doing neat things, but Apple has a tendency to take things that people are working on and making it really work nicely.

If not that I think it would be great for them to use the extra cash to set up manufacturing facilitates in California or elsewhere in the US. With that much cash they could set up the facilities with no problem and be able to pay good wages too. It could be great for the rest of the US economy and spur more highquality design/engineering/manufacturing jobs in North America. (but that’s with rose colored glasses on…)

That is an interesting idea. I’m sure you have read all the press about the Faraday Future factory being built outside of Las Vegas.

Let SpaceX do the space exploration, FWIW though since we’ll be fine with the resources here on earth as well.
And let Tesla do electric cars. No need to drive prices down through competition, better let companies do what they’re good at and act in fairness to make their products available to everyone.

Let Apple be the face of technology - that is what they are good at. Their aesthetic design quality has always been unique but this uniqueness has faded. What truly distinguishes Apple is their focus on friendly and refreshing user interface design. I would like to see Apple everywhere - medical devices, vending machines, lab equipment, 3D printer interfaces, car dashboards. Let Apple be the partner with the knowledge of how to connect people to the digital world.

Then there’s Africa. It may seem like a charity idea but I do feel there is a lot to gain from getting into Africa as well. With the excess profit Apple could start to set up hubs, starting in the more well-faring countries such as Ghana, to develop lower cost products to supply the population with accessible, solar-powered smartphones, for example. Apple could send a lot of people over to do user research in order to make their interfaces more user-friendly, intelligent, informative and fun - I’m sure African people are very eager to help and would come up with great ideas as well. And many young people in the US would be more than willing to go on, say, 6-month missions to Africa.

I would also like to see Apple communicate their original ‘Think Different.’ spirit more - they’re still doing well but their communication has mellowed down I feel, it lacks some of the original strength, urgency and intensity. They could put up iPad shaped billboards in strategic places with things like animated infographics, short documentaries about people all over the world using their products, ideas about innovation etc.