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TheStreet Open House

Would Apple Screw Up Twitter on Buyout?

Every "this company or that company should buy Research in Motion (RIMM)" article not only borders on pathetic, it enters the country "pathetic" without a passport. Why in the world would any company, particularly a healthy one, want to buy a disaster such as RIM?

There would have to be some real strategic-competitive value. The few patents that might matter to an Apple, Google, Amazon or Facebook (FB) do not justify the time and money you would have to spend to get something out of a case study in complete failure like RIM.

You can't say the same about Twitter. Not even close.

There's real value there for Apple. If Apple missed anywhere under Steve Jobs, it was with social. Ping was not supposed to be a dud. I don't care what anybody says in retrospect. Given how huge social is, that was Jobs' biggest misstep at Apple.

Twitter, if integrated into the iTunes platform, represents everything Ping should have been. Unless you link iTunes to a Last.FM account, there's really no way to share what you're listening to with your friends and strangers. Every time I use iTunes, I wonder how Jobs and Apple could let it be so antisocial.

The old milk crates I used to keep my record albums in provide more social value than an iTunes music collection.

The Twitter 140-character format jibes perfectly with full-scale iTunes integration. That type of arrangement lends itself to partnership, not M&A, but in either scenario, what's in it for Twitter?

Not much.

Therefore, if Apple wants deep, customized Twitter integration in iTunes; if it wants to embed the social network in its living room plans; if it wants to meld it into the next generation of an open iMessage, it needs to buy the company.

The more I think about it -- and the more I hear Twitter CEO Dick Costolo speak -- the more I think it has about zero chance of happening unless Apple can stage the hostile takeover of the century. Not going to happen.

There's something special about Twitter's brand of independence. It's probably healthier than any of its peers who have gone public over the last 12 to 24 months. Costolo continues to build this thing out on his and his team's terms. Nobody seems to have even the slightest problem with his approach.

If Apple buys Twitter, it would render the company unrecognizable to itself. That's not good. If I'm Twitter I take a hardline stance. I wouldn't even let Apple open the door to M&A via the investment the two companies reportedly discussed.

At the time of publication, the author was long FB and P.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Rocco Pendola is a private investor with nearly 20 years experience in various forms of media, ranging from radio to print. His work has appeared in academic journals as well as dozens of online and offline publications. He uses his broad experience to help inform his coverage of the stock market, primarily in the technology, Internet and new media spaces. He has taken a long-term approach to investing, focusing on dividend-paying stocks, since he opened his first account as a teenager. Pendola, 37, is based in Santa Monica, Calif., where he lives with his wife and child.
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