Apple is flush with cash. With a reported $51 billion in the bank, not to mention ever-growing profits and a market valuation second only to Exxon Mobil's, Apple could easily acquire its way to even greater heights. As the New York Times reports, Wall Street analysts have been speculating wildly about the subject ever since Apple's latest quarterly conference call, in which Steve Jobs talked of "one or more strategic opportunities in the future."
The speculation ranges from eyebrow-raising to downright implausible. A couple of Kaufman Brothers analysts quoted in the NYT piece say Apple might acquire Netflix or Electronic Arts to supplement its strong content distribution business. Other analysts are clinging on to the rumor that Apple could expand its chip design operations by snatching up ARM.
As icing on the speculation cake, the NYT says some even think Apple might gobble up Facebook. Believe it or not, Steve Jobs and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg are said to have had dinner together recently—although maybe Zuckerberg just wanted to know where Justin Long gets his hoodies. In any case, Apple's recent push in social networking with Ping only adds weight to the claim. (Thanks to ComputerAndVideoGames for the link.)