Bob Iger and Steve Jobs were good friends, having served on the boards of each other’s companies for many years. Jobs had been on Disney’s board since 2006 after the company acquired Pixar for $7.4 billion, while Iger has been a board member at Apple since 2011.
Now, with both companies announcing competing streaming services, Iger has chosen to resign from the Apple board. He had warm words for Apple’s current CEO Tim Cook, his fellow board members, and the company as a whole. But his relationship with Apple could have been closer still, he believes.
In his upcoming autobiography, an extract of which has been published in Vanity Fair, Iger says:
“With every success the company has had since Steve’s death, there’s always a moment in the midst of my excitement when I think, I wish Steve could be here for this.”
“It’s impossible not to have the conversation with him in my head that I wish I could be having in real life. More than that, I believe that if Steve were still alive, we would have combined our companies, or at least discussed the possibility very seriously.”
While Iger may have dreamed of a union between Apple and Disney, and many analysts speculated over the prospect, it’s highly unlikely that a deal of that sort could go through today.
Even if Tim Cook likes what he reads in Iger’s autobiography, there would be a huge number of hurdles to overcome.
Regulatory scrutiny, particularly over tech companies, has increased significantly in recent months. The Trump administration, although business friendly and borderline allergic to red tape, is currently in the midst of an antitrust probe into Apple, along with Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Apple has a market capitalisation in excess of $1 trillion. Next to this Disney’s $246 billion market cap may seem quaint, but if Apple were to acquire it, it would be the biggest deal in history. It would have thrown up a huge number of issues at a time when the company is already being heavily scrutinised.
But it’s a deal that would have made sense: Apple has recently announced its own streaming service, but the company has little experience in this realm. Disney’s resources, not to mention its extensive back catalogue of content, could have done a lot to help Apple+ take on Netflix.
Instead, Disney and Apple are left with rival streaming services – Disney’s is $2 per month dearer than Apple’s, but promises to launch with some of the most loved and successful movies, TV shows, and franchises on the planet. Apple has the money to invest in its own great content, but in this respect it will be playing catch up to Netflix.
So even though a merger with Apple may have been desirable, the future is looking pretty solid for Disney on its own. Apple+, on the other hand, remains unproven.
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