Manufacturing Facilities: Following the news a couple of weeks ago that Foxconn International Holdings Ltd., Apple's primary manufacturer, was raising wages to combat worker suicides, Dennis Hildebrand, an analyst who is frequently cited by Fortune, told me that he could see Apple using some of its cash to build its own manufacturing facilities overseas. "Foxconn has timed this perfectly going into the holiday season," Hildebrand told me. The wage increase was just the beginning of this story, he suggested, because "Foxconn is very powerful." By building its own manufacturing centers, Apple could sidestep Foxconn completely.
A Social Network: "Steve Jobs is definitely interested in building his own social network," according to Tommy Toy at PBT Consulting. "This started with PING, a social network for iTunes members. But, that effort has all but failed." Why start from scratch when you have the money to buy something that's already proven itself? "Facebook may make sense, as crazy as it sounds," Shaw Wu, an analyst at Kaufman Brothers, told the New York Times. "It'd be a game-changer." Peter Kafka of All Things Digital also wondered if Facebook was on Apple's "shopping list," as he put it.
Electronic Arts: With a market cap of a little over $5 billion, Apple could snatch up the biggest game studio and still have money in the bank. The rumors started when Guy Adami, a financial analyst, announced on CNBC's "Fast Money" program that "he had been hearing 'chatter' about Apple 'eyeing' Electronic Arts for a potential buyout," according to IGN Entertainment, a leading media company focused on the gaming industry.
Netflix: "Even though I have said before that Amazon is likely to eventually acquire Netflix, a new possibility has emerged with the Apple iPad," wrote Sramana Mitra back in May. "Netflix could very well become the iTunes store for Apple in the film and video category. With Apple's seemingly limitless profits, a $5 billion-$6 billion acquisition is a no-brainer when the synergies are so strong." The Wall Street Journal followed up on the story just last week, adding that Netflix has managed to do -- and do very well -- something that Apple hasn't: "persuaded millions of people to fork over monthly fees to watch movies and TV shows."
A Steve Jobs Replacement: Largely credited with the success of Apple, Steve Jobs is often portrayed as being super-human, but he will need to be replaced eventually. "Someone as good as Jobs ... might be running another company now, and one way to hire that person would be to buy that company -- as Apple did when it rehired Jobs by acquiring his post-Apple firm, NeXT," wrote Peter Cohan on AOL's DailyFinance site. If they don't, he warned, "Apple will probably go back to being what it was under his predecessor, John Sculley: a company that limps along with old products but struggles to innovate."
Image: Andrew Magill/Flickr.