Thoughts on 'Four Reasons Why Apple Should Buy Nokia'

Leo Sun, in a post for The Motley Fool:

At most it would cost Apple $30 billion to acquire Nokia and cover its outstanding debt. That’s a mere 22% of its cash hoard to invest in a future beyond the confines of iOS devices. Acquiring Nokia would expand Apple’s defensive moat, destroy Microsoft’s mobile business, and give it valuable leverage over its Android-based competitors.

Sun's four reasons that he thinks Apple should buy Nokia range from very good to nonsensical. The sheer amount of cash that Apple has in reserve, though, makes this an interesting thought exercise.

The best reason is also the first one cited by Sun. The patents that Nokia maintains related to the mobile industry would be quite valuable. That, of course, was the primary reason that Google purchased Motorola Mobility. The patents provide excellent protection or offensive capability in today's legal environment. A bonus is that Apple would no longer be required to pay a royalty to Nokia based on a previous patent settlement.

Sun's second reason, offering a wider variety of handsets, doesn't make as much sense. Sun notes that analysts have been clamoring for a cheaper handset to grow Apple's market share. Sun is astute in pointing out that Apple could potentially offer the cheaper phones under the Nokia brand in order to avoid devaluing the Apple brand. However, overall it doesn't make sense to bring on all the headaches of maintaining a separate brand just to produce cheap phones with low margins.

The third reason that Sun lists is downright bizarre. I'm quite sure that Microsoft would be displeased to see its largest Windows Phone manufacturer in the hands of a rival, especially if that rival was Apple. However, it just doesn't make any sense whatsoever to spend so much cash to knock a competitor out of the market when that competitor has struggled to gain market share despite years of heavy spending.

Sun's final reason is a very good one. Apple's switch from Google as the source of mapping data to its own solution resulted in a very public 'black eye' for Apple's reputation. Integrating an excellent data source would be a boon for Apple's maps.

What should Apple do? Should they buy Nokia? Certainly not at the $30 billion mentioned by Sun, but at a more agreeable price (let's say $20 billion) it makes a lot of sense.