Maybe everyone has Apple (AAPL) wrong, everyone except someone deep in the bowels of Apple who has a plan, a plan to take over the world, or at least the television world.
Hear me out. One of the main tenets that Steve Jobs drilled into his colleagues heads is that they must always strive to have the superior product to everyone else's. They must always be offering something that you secretly dreamed of, so secret that you didn't even know it yet yourself.
What's one thing we all want but we can't seem to dream about it because it seems so impossible? How about a beautiful device, one that is whatever size we want, that has a high-resolution screen, perfect sound and can turn on or store whatever programs we want with a simple audio command.
The device is your phone, it is your personal computer, it is your entertainment center. It is all centrally wired in the cloud to make it so you can control it from anywhere.
And, most importantly, what if it is cheaper and better than what you have now. Right now you pay for a box, you pay for a remote, or two or three, you pay for a cellphone, you pay for cable, including many programs that you will never want or need, and you often have to pay multiple organizations for multiple fratures.
What if Apple offered it all in one lower, easier-to-read bill.
What if Apple were your cable company? What if Apple were your telephone company? What if Apple were your TV and cable company? What if Apple were your information technology and entertainment company?
Think of it like this. No company in the world has the cash to build out a new network from scratch, except for Apple. No company in the world can go buy CBS (CBS) when Sumner Redstone moves on, or Fox when Rupert's no longer around, or Disney (DIS) for that matter. Time Warner (TWX) could be up for grabs. Or, let's just scale it down and have Apple buy Dish Network (DISH).
None of these are absurd. Disney could be bought at a 50% premium to its current price and Apple still would not need to borrow money. CBS is a year's worth of cash. When News Corp (NWS) splits into Fox and publishing, Apple can buy it and still have $800 billion left to pay out some dividend that gets Einhorn off its back. Time Warner would eat up a similar amount.
Apple could partner with Verizon (VZ) on Fios, just write them a check. Hey, they split Verizon wireless with Vodaphone. Why not split Fios with Verizon? Think about it. The telco giant gets no real credit for running Fios throughout major portions of this country. Why not cut Verizon a check for $65 billion now that it is built out and take half. Verizon couldn't be unhappy with that. Its whole equity is valued at only twice that.
Or, maybe, just maybe, Apple spends a $32 billion (again, chump change) and pays Dish Network $33 billion, a double from the current price and then takes the rest of the money and makes sure the satellite feed is good enough for voice and data and then gives you a package that has what you want for say half of what you are paying now?
Wouldn't Congress want that?
Wouldn't you want that?
Maybe the issue with the challenge from David Einhorn is that it is just too pedestrian.
We have been thinking that CEO Tim Cook can't roll the cable companies the way Jobs rolled the record companies. But maybe because Apple and Apple only, has the cash to do all of these initiatives, it just doesn't matter.
Maybe, David Einhorn, maybe Apple snickerers, cash is still king. And the king lives in Cupertino.