Apple is rich. But we knew this already. What we didn't know until the Cupertino company announced its most recent quarterly figures is that it's undeniably rolling in it. Head Honcho, El Jobs, was more pleased than the punchiest of mixed fruit-based drinks in telling the world that he'd sold more Xs, Ys and Zs than last year's count. Bringing in a record revenue of $20 billion which whittles down to an icy $4 billion after tax profit.
What was more interesting than any of this though was what it now means, and that's that Apple has $50 billion dollars gathering dust in a large bank vault somewhere. In cash. Unused. Liquid.
Of course, anyone who hoards on that kind of scale has obviously got some kind of spending problem, so here's a little advice for Apple, on behalf of Pocket-lint, as to how it could blow its hard-amassed fortune.
Buy another company
$50 billion is actually so much wonga that Apple's traders could have their pick of quite a few massive companies out there, with the option of buying up the whole thing or certainly controlling stock. Sony could be had out-right, as could eBay. Apple could afford two RIMs and even poor old Nokia could be plucked off the shelf like a can of baked beans. Sadly, one notable Goliath is worth too much.
Get at Google
Arch-rival Google is annoyingly too far out of reach for a hostile takeover. However, one way that Apple could get at the search giant could be to take control of Yahoo! and use the remaining 17-odd billion in change to make some decent competition out of it. Get Google fighting on that front and they might have less time to compete with Apple in the mobile space. Goodbye Android.
Buy the entire iTunes catalogue - 3000 times
There are over 14 million songs worldwide in the iTunes Store; ranging from 69 cents to $1.29. If we go for a rather expensive average of $1 per track, that makes around $14m for the lot. If you add in all the music videos, TV and movies - all rated at the HD, top-end price of $20 each - that's a further $1m. So, in actual fact, Apple could use the money to buy the iTunes Store goodies over 3333 times. The tricky part is that the company would actually make quite a bit of revenue from that, so they might have to flush it through a few hundred times to get the balance down closer to zero.
We're not talking about an H-bomb, nor anything that would be particularly illegal. Apple could use the cash to buy enough sheets of A4 paper to launch the world's greatest paper airplane attack on Redmond neighbours, and life time sparring partner, Microsoft. That's a fleet of 7.9 trillion darts. Of course, the amount of time taken to fold these or employ a person to do so could be an issue. So, let's shave it down to 5 trillion and throw in a squadron of Apple branded zeppelins to rain down the fury. It would have to go down as office prank of the century and leave the Microsoft staff with a few issues getting home.
Apple: The Movie
Forget "The Social Network", forget "Pirates of Silicon Valley", forget even "Avatar". "Apple: The Movie" could be the single most expensive film in history. With a $50 billion budget it would blow the current record holder, "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End", out of the water a staggering 166 times over. They could send the effects into the stratosphere if they saved money by getting Steve Jobs to play himself. The film could document the rise and rise and rise of Apple since the G3 iMacs to the iPad in a way that no one else has so far. That is a cultural legacy. You're nobody till you've hit Hollywood.
This one's a little trickier, both in that it's harder to do and the budget needed, but $50 billion is probably enough to re-write history as you choose. Don't like the fact that Xerox was the inspiration for Apple computers? Buy them, change its records, pay off those who've written otherwise to rewrite it, rub out those who won't comply, then give it a few years and no one will remember that photocopying company any more. Want to say that Apple's success was all down to you? Who ever heard of someone named Ive anyway?
Brand the Moon
The Moon. Bit boring really, isn't it? Now what would be nice, if you happen to be Apple, might be to spend your $50 billion sending up a space mission to blow a few chunks out of it, until it's shaped like the Apple logo. Surely the ultimate branding exercise ever? Naturally, there would be one or two issues with millions of your customers meeting their deaths owing to the extreme tidal changes, but where some see a problem, others might find an opportunity. iDinghy anyone?
Make it up to Bill
The relationship between Gates and Jobs has never been the easiest and, despite the odd public love in occasionally, the wound is still deep. So, instead, in one almighty show of union, how about Apple donates that $50 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Not only would the money go to improve healthcare and reduce poverty all over the world, but the gift would also make Big Steve and his company the single most charitable entity in American history. It's also a sly one-up on the Gates family by doubling what they've given themselves, knocking them down into third place on the all time list.
What else could Apple and Steve Jobs do with all that cash? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.