Apple partners IBM and Sun consider merger

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
IBM and Sun Microsystems, two companies that at one point in the 90s each danced around the idea of buying up Apple, are now discussing the option to merge together according to reports in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.



The prospects of the two companies merging together is particularly interesting given their histories of partnerships with Apple and the acquisition plans both drew up on more than one occasion during Apple's lowest points in the early and mid 90s.



Both companies were also involved with Steve Jobs' NeXT, Inc., the company that developed what would become Mac OS X at Apple. Since Jobs return to Apple in 1996, both IBM and Sun have demonstrated new interest in working with Apple and Mac OS X, something that would only increase if the two do decide to merge.



Apple and IBM



IBM, once a key rival to Apple in 1980s as it flexed its business computing monopoly power to stomp out the Apple II with its 1982 PC, was welcomed to the personal computing market by Apple in the famous ad, "Welcome, IBM. Seriously."



"When we invented the first personal computer system," Apple's ad copy stated, "we estimated that over 140,000,000 people worldwide could justify the purchase of one, if only they understood its benefits. [...] We look forward to responsible competition in the massive effort to distribute this American technology to the world. And we appreciate the magnitude of your commitment. Because what we are doing is increasing social capital by enhancing individual productivity. Welcome to the task."



After launching the Macintosh in 1984 Apple ran another ad, this time portraying IBM as the groupthink of a totalitarian dictatorship, introducing the new Mac as a rebellion against boorish, small minded conformity. By the end of the decade however, IBM's rivalry with Apple had withered away along with IBM's PC business, which was eaten up by cloners running Microsoft's DOS.



Throughout the early 90s, Apple and IBM became tight partners in co-developing the PowerPC processor, the Taligent OS intended to eventually replace both the classic Mac OS and IBM's OS/2, and a multimedia venture in Kaleida Labs.



The reunion was based on a shared mistrust of Microsoft, which had stolen Apple's Mac interface and QuickTime code and abandoned IBM's OS/2 partnership while launching an assault on IBM's Lotus software division as it worked to craft the new Windows into an empire monopolizing the PC desktop operating system and applications.



As Microsoft rose in influence, IBM and Apple faltered. By the mid 90s, Taligent and Kaleida Labs had shuttered and Apple had hit the rocks, leaving CEO Michael Spindler desperate to sell the company off to IBM. Had that happened, Apple and its technology would likely have disappeared into rusting technology portfolios as quickly as Taligent had.



IBM and Steve Jobs



In 1988, just before it began partnering with Apple, IBM paid Steve Jobs' NeXT Computer $10 million for a license to use its futuristic NeXTSTEP operating system on the company's AIX systems. In October 1990, IBM demonstrated NeXTSTEP running on its IBM RS/6000 workstations. However, IBM lost interest in NeXT as it got busy with Apple in developing Taligent, which largely attempted to replicate NeXT's advanced, object oriented development frameworks.



By 1992, NeXT had announced its intention to port its operating system to the Intel PC, leaving IBM and its PowerPC architecture closer aligned with Apple and the Taligent partnership. HP, which had also expressed interest in NeXTSTEP, also pulled out to join Apple and IBM in developing Taligent. At the time, NeXT and the industry viewed Taligent as its principle rival, along with Microsoft's Cairo project, which was supposed to follow the development of Windows NT.



Both Taligent and Cairo turned out to be vaporware, failing to ever arrive as originally outlined. That left NeXT all dressed up to attend an object oriented frameworks party that was canceled due to poor turnout. It did however benefit Apple, which realized it desperately needed an infusion of outside operating system technology in 1996, just as NeXT was about to throw away its advanced operating system. Then Apple bought NeXT in the final days of 1996 at a cost of over half a billon dollars, converting its piles of cash into technology it could turn into a product relatively quickly, although it still took five years for Apple to release the first desktop version of Mac OS X.



Apple and Sun



Apple and Sun also had frequent encounters. In many ways, Sun was the enterprise version of Apple, selling premium specialized software (the BSD UNIX-based SunOS and then later the AT&T SVR4-influenced Solaris) on top of premium specialized hardware (originally workstations using the same 68000 of the first Macintoshes, then the SPARC processor architecture Sun developed itself, and most recently x86-based machines).



Two years ago, Sun co-founder Bill Joy told an audience at the Computer History Museum of his personal affinity for Steve Jobs and said it was a "personal disappointment" that the two companies hadn't become closer. "There were six very close encounters," Joy noted.



Joy said Sun had worked with Apple first to develop a shared network file system and then to work out a shared graphical user interface, but both efforts failed to materialize. Sun also tried to get Apple to port the Macintosh to its SPARC processor.



"As far as I know we also almost bought Apple once. We almost merged with Apple two other times," Joy said. As was the case with IBM, Apple and Sun were affiliated by a distrust and resentment of Microsoft. Just as Microsoft had worked closely with Apple and IBM before stabbing them both in the back, it also partnered with Sun over Java before working to destroy the threat that Sun's "run anywhere" platform posed to its Windows empire.



All three Microsoft rivals later participated in US Department of Justice monopoly trial against Microsoft in the late 90s, airing out scandalous details of Microsoft's business practices into the public record. More recently, Sun acquired StarOffice and turned it into the open source OpenOffice suite to compete against Microsoft's Office dominance of the desktop productivity software market. IBM has joined Sun in offering a distribution of OpenOffice under its Lotus Symphony brand.



Sun and Steve Jobs



Following IBM's abandonment of NeXT, Sun also played a partner to Jobs' NeXT, paying $11 million to license its operating system technology in a partnership that sought to bring NeXT's user interface and development frameworks to Sun's SPARC hardware. The result of the collaboration was OpenStep, an open specification that intended to provide a common, sophisticated platform for applications that could run on NeXTSTEP (which already ran on hardware from PA-RISC, SPARC, and MIPS, to the common Intel PC) as well as the upper layer of the system running on another operating system, such as Solaris or Windows NT.



Sun also bought up Lighthouse Design, a major developer of NeXT applications for $2 million. However, Sun almost immediately lost interest in NeXT once its own Java began gaining buzzword traction in 1996, again leaving NeXT uniquely prepared to deliver a powerful, cross platform operating system with advanced development frameworks that nobody wanted. Apart from, of course, Apple.



Sun buried the Lighthouse apps, leaving Apple with the task of developing software for its new NeXT-based platform from scratch. Adobe and Microsoft were also wary of developing new software for a NeXT-based replacement to the Mac OS, forcing Apple to delay its release for nearly a half decade while it grafted support for running existing classic Mac OS code on top of the system.



IBM and Sun and the New Apple



Once Apple pulled off its successful release of Mac OS X and rebuilt itself as a consumer electronics company with the iPod, IBM and Sun expressed new interest in working with Apple to counter Microsoft's domination of the tech industry. IBM has expanded its support for Macs both on the desktop internally within the company, as well as with its server products. IBM is also interested in bringing its Lotus Notes client to the iPhone.



Sun has worked with Apple to maintain Java on the Mac platform (even as Apple has resisted all efforts by Sun to get Java on the iPhone), but most recently the collaborations have involved OpenSolaris, the open source distribution of Sun's highly regarded Solaris. Sun's sharing enabled Apple to adapt Sun's DTrace technology for use in Mac OS X Leopard, and Apple built a GarageBand-like Instruments application to make the development diagnostics and sampling tool easy to use.



Apple has also implemented read-only support for Sun's ZFS, a new open source, 128-bit file system with advanced features, into Leopard. Full support for ZFS will follow in Snow Leopard.



A merger of IBM and Sun would result in an even tighter relationship with Apple, and could even create a market for licensing Mac OS X Server on enterprise hardware and supporting that software using a services team that Apple lacks the resources to quickly assemble from scratch.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 72
    This sounds like a greatly beneficial merger towards increasing the capabilities of mac os x servers in hardware and support. Sounds good to me.
  • Reply 2 of 72
    ivladivlad Posts: 739member
    this would be amazing. three great companies can crush micro$oft right about.....now....
  • Reply 3 of 72
    breezebreeze Posts: 96member
    Good reasoning.
  • Reply 4 of 72
    As I said in my post yesterday, this will be a nightmare for Java and OpenSource as IBM will ruin or kill all of Sun's excellent software products:



    http://forums.appleinsider.com/showthread.php?t=96439
  • Reply 5 of 72
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,220member
    Quote:

    A merger of IBM and Sun would result in an even tighter relationship with Apple, and could even create a market for licensing Mac OS X Server on enterprise hardware and supporting that software using a services team that Apple lacks the resources to quickly assemble from scratch.



    I doubt it changes anything. Apple's abrupt departure from the PPP alliance took IBM by surprise and I'm sure there's still a bit of animosity there.



    IBM losing Mark Papermaster to Apple doesn't help either.



    Apple's refusal to support JAVA likely didn't help relations with Sun even though ZFS and Dtrace probably eased the bruised egos.



    In the end I'd rather have an Apple-Sun merger but I can understand why Apple doesn't want to go down that road.
  • Reply 6 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    I doubt it changes anything. Apple's abrupt departure from the PPP alliance took IBM by surprise and I'm sure there's still a bit of animosity there.



    IBM losing Mark Papermaster to Apple doesn't help either.



    Apple's refusal to support JAVA likely didn't help relations with Sun even though ZFS and Dtrace probably eased the bruised egos.



    In the end I'd rather have an Apple-Sun merger but I can understand why Apple doesn't want to go down that road.



    An Apple takeover of Sun would make sense for Java developers, and would be infinitely better than a takeover by IBM.



    Apple could run Sun as a separate division and simply finance them for the 6 months needed for its could computing and other initiatives to take off. Apple could then borrow Sun's engineers once in a while. This would keep Sun's open source projects and their R&D alive instead of sitting idly by and allowing IBM to ruin them or kill them off.



    It's not like Sun is losing money. They made an operating profit last quarter and only lost money because of one-time charges.



    In the meantime, they are positioning themselves as the open source vendor of choice, and Apple would benefit enormously from companies that go the open source route, and realize they need a one-stop shopping vendor to provider hardware and support.



    Apple would also gain instant credibility in the enterprise server market, where Sun is very strong but where Apple has no presence.
  • Reply 7 of 72
    bfuldabfulda Posts: 37member
    Ballmer, be afraid, be very afraid!
  • Reply 8 of 72
    mshockmshock Posts: 21member
    If Sun really is in such trouble, I wonder why Apple wouldn't take the helm... The only reason I can think of is that Apple is focused on non-business computing. The iPhone, however, opens Apple up to business computing and potentially, enterprise level managment. With Sun's able developer community and distribution frameworks, it would be the infrastructure push Apple needs to expand.



    I hope IBM doesn't make the deal... they don't have a great reputation with Apple after the dropping of powerpc... and I don't want OpenSolaris scrapped.
  • Reply 9 of 72
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,220member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MShock View Post


    If Sun really is in such trouble, I wonder why Apple wouldn't take the helm... The only reason I can think of is that Apple is focused on non-business computing. The iPhone, however, opens Apple up to business computing and potentially, enterprise level managment. With Sun's able developer community and distribution frameworks, it would be the infrastructure push Apple needs to expand.



    I hope IBM doesn't make the deal... they don't have a great reputation with Apple after the dropping of powerpc... and I don't want OpenSolaris scrapped.



    Probably for the same reasons Apple has tepid interest in Enterprise level computing. They don't seem to feel comfortable in this arena. I agree with JavaCowboy and Apple Sun merger could work with the right amount of Sun Autonomy and of course sharing of technology.



    Apple alone could sway big numbers simply by using Sun on the backend for their Datacenters. Sun's storage hardware is solid (StorageTek stuff freshened up) and Sun is more into support services than Apple which is why they do not fear open source.
  • Reply 10 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JavaCowboy View Post


    An Apple takeover of Sun would make sense for Java developers, and would be infinitely better than a takeover by IBM.



    Apple could run Sun as a separate division and simply finance them for the 6 months needed for its could computing and other initiatives to take off. Apple could then borrow Sun's engineers once in a while. This would keep Sun's open source projects and their R&D alive instead of sitting idly by and allowing IBM to ruin them or kill them off.



    It's not like Sun is losing money. They made an operating profit last quarter and only lost money because of one-time charges.



    In the meantime, they are positioning themselves as the open source vendor of choice, and Apple would benefit enormously from companies that go the open source route, and realize they need a one-stop shopping vendor to provider hardware and support.



    Apple would also gain instant credibility in the enterprise server market, where Sun is very strong but where Apple has no presence.



    Agreed. As a Solaris certified sysadmin, I see both companies complementing each other.



    Apple has little penetration of server hardware and Sun has some terrific technologies for enterprise needs...
  • Reply 11 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JavaCowboy View Post


    An Apple takeover of Sun would make sense for Java developers, and would be infinitely better than a takeover by IBM.



    Apple would also gain instant credibility in the enterprise server market, where Sun is very strong but where Apple has no presence.



    Absolutely.



    That would also give Apple control and ownership of Sun's excellent (and FREE) VirtualBox virtual machine software. It would make a great extension to the capabilities of Boot Camp. Plus, with Apple's programming and interface genius, they could make it much easier to setup, use and maintain.



    One of the best features of VirtualBox is the ability to install ANY Intel processor based OS on an EXTERNAL hard drive. There's no need to clog up an internal drive with Windows or Linux, etc.



    I had to do this for a client that only needed Windows to run the archaic AIA Contract Documents software, which also requires Word for Windows to run. Setup is clunky, thanks to Windows, but it works really well.



    http://www.virtualbox.org
  • Reply 12 of 72
    Say goodbye to most of Sun's open-source stuff. Although ZFS is popular enough that somebody will fork it when IBM changes its license.
  • Reply 13 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post


    Say goodbye to most of Sun's open-source stuff. Although ZFS is popular enough that somebody will fork it when IBM changes its license.



    If ZFS is put up for sale, let's hope that Apple uses some of their cash reserves and buys it.



    Once Snow Leopard is released, Apple should (arguably) have the largest and certainly most visible, accessible and broad deployment of ZFS... Snow Leopard Server at least, until it makes it to Mac OS X proper.
  • Reply 14 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JavaCowboy View Post


    Apple could run Sun as a separate division and simply finance them for the 6 months needed for its could computing and other initiatives to take off. Apple could then borrow Sun's engineers once in a while. This would keep Sun's open source projects and their R&D alive instead of sitting idly by and allowing IBM to ruin them or kill them off.

    ...

    Apple would also gain instant credibility in the enterprise server market, where Sun is very strong but where Apple has no presence.



    I too would much rather see Apple buy Sun (or invest heavily).



    Apple doesn't do much in the Enterprise space - and Sun could easily become the "Enterprise Computing" division. Keep Sun setup as is and roll in the Mac Pros, Xserve, etc. Make them responsible for everything in business.



    They could even own 80% of Sun and have a great business play going forward.
  • Reply 15 of 72
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,220member
    OpenSolaris Project: Crossbow: Network Virtualization and Resource Control



    Quote:

    Introduction to Crossbow



    Crossbow provides the building blocks for network virtualization and resource control by virtualizing the stack and NIC around any service (HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, NFS, etc.), protocol or Virtual machine.



    Each virtual stack can be assigned its own priority and bandwidth on a shared NIC without causing any performance degradation. The architecture dynamically manages priority and bandwidth resources, and can provide better defense against denial-of-service attacks directed at a particular service or virtual machine by isolating the impact just to that entity. The virtual stacks are separated by means of H/W classification engine such that traffic for one stack does not impact other virtual stacks.



    Project Crossbow is next step in the evolution of Solaris networking stack and brings bandwidth resource control and virtualization as part of the architecture itself instead of the usual add-on layers which have heavy overheads and complexity.




    See HP Virtual Connect



    This stuff's a must for efficient virtualization.
  • Reply 16 of 72
    monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,199member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JavaCowboy View Post


    An Apple takeover of Sun would make sense for Java developers, .





    what use is Java to Apple? They would chuck it in the bin if they had any sense. Which they do.



    EDIT: Sorry thats an inflammatory remark, they certainly wouldn't "chuck it in the bin" but it's also of little use, and they would waste few resources on it.
  • Reply 17 of 72
    nceencee Posts: 836member
    Didn't IBM offer to buy Sun yesterday for $9.00 or so a share?



    Skip
  • Reply 18 of 72
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,229member
    Hey! Steve McQueen what the hell is, ``Apple partners IBM and Sun consider merger?''
  • Reply 19 of 72
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,229member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post


    what use is Java to Apple? They would chuck it in the bin if they had any sense. Which they do.



    EDIT: Sorry thats an inflammatory remark, they certainly wouldn't "chuck it in the bin" but it's also of little use, and they would waste few resources on it.



    WebObjects uses Java. Move along.
  • Reply 20 of 72
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,229member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post


    Say goodbye to most of Sun's open-source stuff. Although ZFS is popular enough that somebody will fork it when IBM changes its license.



    OpenSolaris, ZFS and Java are open sourced.
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