Apple in the BI Space?

August 14, 2010
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Earlier today, Lizette Chapman at Fast Company wrote about Apple’s $46 billion in cash reserves.

Investors are asking the company to use that to pay out dividends, but Steve Jobs wants to keep sitting on the dough.  Steve says:

Earlier today, Lizette Chapman at Fast Company wrote about Apple’s $46 billion in cash reserves.

Investors are asking the company to use that to pay out dividends, but Steve Jobs wants to keep sitting on the dough.  Steve says:

We know if we need to acquire something–a piece of the puzzle to make something big and bold–we can write a check for it and not borrow a lot of money and put our whole company at risk.  The cash in the bank gives us tremendous security and flexibility.

If Steve wanted, he could take a small chunk of that money–not much, perhaps just a billion or two–and buy one of the few remaining pure Business Intelligence software vendors.  Apple could then leverage the acquired BI infrastructure and and build a nice BI front-end for the iPad.

That would classify as “big and bold.”  Today, the BI software space is dominated by four mega-vendors: IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP.  All of these big companies acquired BI vendors.  Why not Apple?

My blog gets hit constantly by people looking for information about BI on the iPad and other mobile devices.  People want it.  Apple could buy it.  It would work.

Apple already has a Business Intelligence webpage showing other vendors’ BI apps on the iPhone and iPad.  Using some of its cash, Apple could be a winner in the BI space.

Candidates for Steve to buy include Actuate, MicroStrategy, and Information Builders.  Personally, I would suggest that Apple acquire privately-held Information Builders’ for their BI product WebFOCUS and their enterprise integration technology called iWay Software.

The WebFOCUS architecture works well as a powerful BI engine for Safari-based web applications.  So it already works today on the iPad.  Just to take things to that “big and bold” level, however, Apple could implement a beautiful touchscreen BI application to sit on top of WebFOCUS.

Of course, the product name WebFOCUS is right up there with “horseless carriage.”  Apple will surely change that to something snappy like iBI (which is what most people call it today because of the vendor’s initials), Apple Info, or Apple Knowledge. 

The iWay Software already has the Apple “i” at the beginning!  Still, I would make a name change recommendation–since enterprise integration is plumbing, the glue that holds things together, etc.–I would go with Apple Sauce.

With $46 billion in cash, Steve should have no problem becoming one of the BI software mega-vendors if he wants.