Gini Dietrich

Apple Should Not Buy Twitter

By: Gini Dietrich | March 26, 2012 | 

I was just reading a GigaOm article titled, “Should Apple Buy Twitter?

It likely comes as no surprise to you that I’m shocked Twitter is still around. While I love it and spend a good amount of time on it, I have no idea how they’re surviving.

Yes, they were just valued at $9 billion. Yes, they have tons of funding. But a company that hasn’t made a cent in their entire six years? I don’t get it.

Did we not learn our lesson in the dot com bubble? Eyeballs don’t always equate profits.

But now there is speculation Apple could buy the social networking giant with some of their cash reserves (it’s also said they have so much money, they could buy Facebook and Research In Motion). 

But Apple is a computer company. One that has had laser focus since Steve Jobs retook the helm in the 90s. One that knows what they do and doesn’t try to be all things to all people.

So why would they try to be a social network, too?

This all started with Barry Ritholtz who said:

Apple does software and hardware really well; they do the integration between the two outstandingly. But they haven’t really done Social particularly well . . . Twitter automagically makes Apple a defactoplayer in social. Apple’s biggest competitors over the next decade are not HP or Dell or even Microsoft — they are more likely to be Google and Facebook.

I don’t agree. That’s like McDonald’s saying they need to open white tablecloth restaurants. Or Starbucks wanting to get into beer and wine (oh wait).

We’ve seen it time and time again. A company gets big and greedy so they start to go after similar industries, and lose focus on what they do really well. Then they begin to lose profits and, in some cases, cease to exist.

Apple does do hardware and software really well. Let them keep doing that. Let them keep changing our lives by bringing us iPods and iPhones and iPads and iTVs and whatever iOtherThings we haven’t even imagined yet.

Let them create a strategic alliance with Twitter, if it’s so important they go social, and also do the same with Facebook and Pinterest and, heck, even MySpace, if they want to. That way they don’t pigeon hole themselves into one social network, they can focus on what they do best, and they become a social company.

Or…they can invest in Spin Sucks Pro. You know. Just because.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Apple tried the social network thing with Ping – and look how successful *that* was. 😉 

  • Apple tried the social network thing with Ping – and we all see how successful *that* was. 😉
    The deep integration of Twitter into iOS5 is a sign of things to come, I think. 

    • ginidietrich

       @jasonkonopinski I’ll be really disappointed in them if they do buy Twitter. Talk about painting yourself into a corner.

      •  @ginidietrich I really don’t think the rumor of a buy has any legs. 

        • ginidietrich

           @jasonkonopinski I hope not!

  • byron_fernandez

    @ginidietrich Agree. Not necessarily a match in systems/culture

    • ginidietrich

      @byron_fernandez Or what they do…

      • byron_fernandez

        @ginidietrich Right. That’d be like Microsoft buying Facebook. Not so much.

      • byron_fernandez

        @ginidietrich Right. That’d be like Microsoft buying Facebook. Mm–Not so much.

    • kimvsqlk4


  • I agree with @jasonkonopinski Apple should buy Facebook close it down and force everyone to use Ping.

  • Apple makes devices and software. Their OS is ok. I actually like Windows better. I haven’t used the IPhone much but it seems pretty slick. But Android is pretty slick too. Other than that they have ITunes which has been stuck in 2007.
    So to me Apple is more a hardware company and there isn’t any guarantee if they go into software and services that they will succeed. Proof they make devices? People buy macs and use Windows on it. People don’t buy Windows Machines and load OS on it.
    So I agree Gini leave the Twitter alone. Not a good fit.

    • ginidietrich

       @HowieSPM I went all Apple about a year ago and I’ll never go back. I don’t even use Windows anymore (which was a hard habit to break). So, while a focus group of one, I’m the opposite of you. I love them. I love what they bring to market. I love how they challenge our imaginations. But you and I have had this conversation before…focus on what you do really, really well. Otherwise you may as well start digging your grave.

    • IamWJC

       @HowieSPM People don’t buy Windows Machines and load OS X on it because they can’t, not because they don’t want to. Apple writes their OS code so specifically for their hardware that it is almost impossible to load OSX onto a non apple machine, and only the really technically savvy people can pull it off…

    • trontastic

       @HowieSPM I think I got as close as you can to loading OSX to a windows machine a while back…which really just consisted of using some funky scripts to make my UX LOOK like a Mac. 🙂 I would go OSX on my PC in a heart beat if I could…and if I had a PC. All my machines have a white apple on the top of’em.

  •  @ginidietrich I do love a good rant first thing in the morning. One angle that could play into a purchase, not mentioned here, is the partnership that Microsoft has with Twitter. At SXSW this year, they showed off a seamless integration with Twitter and Facebook that you’d be able to see from your phone an icon of who Tweeted or DM’d you so that you could decide whether to open or not.
    A purchase could derail that relationship and also make the Windows phone, whose low cost will surely hurt some of the iPhone marketshare. Just a thought to drop in the bucket for an ACQ, although I don’t think it makes sense. It kind of reminds me of the chatter I’ve heard in rants on AmEx buying foursquare…. 

    • ginidietrich

       @jeffespo If Steve Jobs were still alive, I could actually see them buying Twitter just to spite Bill Gates, especially if they’re integrating it so much. But let’s be real…how many computer users actually use Twitter? Not many.

      •  @ginidietrich like I said, I don’t see it happening, but was throwing a dime into the argumentative side of your rant. Also what the hell is Twitter?

        • ginidietrich

           @jeffespo It’s the place where you tell me you <3 me.

        •  @ginidietrich  @jeffespo Based on Tweet volume of 175m tweets per day there are about 40-50mil active twitter users world wide with 70% being outside the US. This is if someone who uses twitter tweets an average of 4 per day. Any real twitter user would know 4 per day is not active and you are barely using the service. I average 29 so if everyone was say at 20 that would mean about 10 million users worldwide.
          So in effect no one uses Twitter.
          To be fair same with facebook. 85% of activity is from 15% of users. I have estimated only 27mil active US users per day based on the volume of activity (status updates + likes + comments per day)

        • trontastic

           @HowieSPM your grasp on metrics this early in the day and week makes my brain hurt. I’m still trying to comprehend “purple” this morning.

        • ginidietrich

           @trontastic  @HowieSPM HIs grasp on metrics any time of the day is astounding.

  • MarkMiller02

    @ginidietrich seems more logical for Google to make a bid for Twitter than Apple. The article you cited makes a good argument for that.

    • ginidietrich

      @MarkMiller02 It makes much more sense…Apple should do what they do best

  • ginidietrich

    @Hollandersauce Morning!

    • Hollandersauce

      @ginidietrich Morning! Good to see it’s already productive : )

      • ginidietrich

        @Hollandersauce Lots to do!

  • ginidietrich

    @jasonbrow Great minds…

  • No. No. No. There are so many problems with this, I don’t know where to begin.
    Apple is laser focused on profits. Look at the iPhone and the iPad. They are designed to generate huge sums of cash for Apple on the device itself as well as through the App  and iTunes stores.
    Has Twitter even turned a profit? I know they make money, I see the ads all the time and I have an idea of what they charge, but that doesn’t mean they are profitable. If anything, Twitter needs Apple to buy them because they don’t make enough money.
    Even then, Apple doesn’t get social. Ping is awful. GameCenter is half-hearted at best. Apple does much better at making hardware and operating systems. They need to stick to that.

    •  @JayDolan they should buy the Anti-Social Media Blog and turn it into the Apple Social Media Blog.

      •  @HowieSPM I don’t think I could come up with something as punny as “Resolutionary”

    • ginidietrich

       @JayDolan So we agree then. Darn.

      •  @ginidietrich We can disagree on something else. I promise. Something about PR professionals. Or cat photos. Or LinkedIn tips.

  • That might be worse than the rumor I heard about CNN buying Mashable. Boooo.

    In other related media news, Spin Sucks has now moved up to 3rd place on my mobile web rankings just behind espn and facebook! Congratulations, Gini, for bumping Empire Avenue 🙂

    • ginidietrich

       @SociallyGenius Oh! Now I have something to achieve. Facebook…here we come!

      •  @ginidietrich  @SociallyGenius I dunno CNN buying Mashable would be epic. I mean two flawed news orgs combining into a giant flawed news org?

        • ginidietrich

           @HowieSPM  @SociallyGenius Howie said the word to not be mentioned!

        • @HowieSPM @ginidietrich But We already have enough people that claim to be social media experts. Do you really want to see Wolf Blitzer reporting live from the shorty awards?

        • trontastic

           @SociallyGenius  @HowieSPM  @ginidietrich THAT would be epic.

        • ginidietrich

           @trontastic  @SociallyGenius  @HowieSPM I’m with Levi. That would be epic!

  • It would be interesting to be on the inside of Apple to better understand where perhaps leadership wants to take the company.  There’s no doubt they’re thinking many years ahead and I wonder if they have any desire to have more control on the future of social as it relates to hardware.  In other words, will they stake more claim online to carve out the future hardware marketplace. 

    • ginidietrich

       @JoelFortner Perhaps…and they’re being typical Apple by not telling us anything. It’ll be interesting to see where Tim Cook takes the company. But I can’t imagine they’d favor Twitter over Facebook in a fight to get social.

      • I couldn’t imagine that either.  I could see them doing more with social TV, which is a market that in my view that needs some maturation, which will require a major player or two.

        • ginidietrich

           @JoelFortner And…if the rumors are true, that’s what Jobs was working on when he stepped down.

        • Well either I read that and put it into long-term memory or I’m onto something. My bet is on the former.  =) 

  • In my opinion, acquiring Twitter would be a very un-Apple-like (did I use those hyphens correctly) thing for them to do. They’ve always focused on doing a few things incredibly well. Buying Twitter would stretch them thin and declare open season from the media, as far as criticism goes. And the company hasn’t had to contend with criticism for a very long time.
    On second thought, it might be fun to watch how they handle it.
    Buy Twitter!

    • ginidietrich

       @bradmarley You did use the hyphens correctly! Are you writing this while wearing your new shades? While it would be fun to watch them deal with the criticism, I’m with you. It spreads them too thin.

      •  @ginidietrich I’ve decided to wear those shades everywhere indefinitely.

        • ginidietrich

           @bradmarley That makes me so happy!

  • HLeichsenring

    I really see no sense for Apple buying twitter (or Facebook or even Google). Why should they, There is no strategic fit at all.
    If Apple would like to become more social, it could use every social network in the world without even paying for it.
    If I would like to drink a glass of milk, I do not have to buy the cow.
    Kind regards from Germany

    • ginidietrich

       @HLeichsenring “If Apple would like to become more social, it could use every social network in the world without even paying for it.”

  • This “buy a company and now you are a player” strategy is a poor one. Look at Yahoo’s purchases of Flickr, Delicious, Upcoming, and MyBlogLog.
    You make a great point that Apple should just make a strategic alliance with Twitter.

    • ginidietrich

       @mattmaldre And Twitter just bought Posterous… It’ll be much easier for them to become social with alliances vs. buying one and shutting out the rest.

  • I looked at that story and thought that the journalist went for low hanging fruit. We could hear about Google or MS buying it for the same reasons.
    Hell Yahoo could jump in and make themselves more relevant too. Journalists sometimes reach and this might be…

    • ginidietrich

       @TheJackB Or they could invest in Spin Sucks Pro. Don’t you think that’s a good idea?

      •  @ginidietrich I think so. I am promoting the return of patronage. Wealthy sponsors should pay us to create our art.

        • ginidietrich

           @TheJackB I agree.

        •  @ginidietrich  @TheJackB We need a modern day Medici family. 

  • trontastic

    I think an all-out purchase right now would not make sense and I take comfort in the minds behind the Apple brand as I’m sure they wouldn’t make this mistake. That said, I think if there is a way for them to get into the game and position themselves as an ideal candidate for such a purchase.
    If Apple were to create a software/hardware mix that allowed users to leverage Twitter in a new/easier/faster/simpler way than they are now, that would open the door. If they were able to integrate the concept of micro-blogging into the brainless functions of their hardware, it would begin to make sense. If they were to find a way to tightly intertwine the iphone/pad/pod with tweeting, it would make sense.
    But right now? Oh hell no.

    • ginidietrich

       @trontastic And maybe that’s what they’re thinking…some sort of application that makes our being social even easier.

  • Gini, You should be on their board of directors. Seriously. Your suggestion that Apple should form strategic alliances with Twitter, Facebook etc. would be a smart decision. Buying Twiitter? Why? 

    • ginidietrich

       @keepupweb Talk about a dream appointment…me and Al Gore!

  • MarkMiller02

    @ginidietrich why Google should –

  • I really don’t get the battle for eyeballs philosophy at all. I don’t know of a single business that succeeded at this (other than a strategic exit and payoff selling off to someone with deep pockets).
    When Apple tries to rule everything it will be their undoing.

    • ginidietrich

       @hackmanj I don’t understand it either. The fact a company is six years old and hasn’t made a dime blows my mind. Could you stay in business if you functioned that way?

  • rustyspeidel

    Totally agree. I really hope Tim doesn’t go all half-cocked and destroy the greatness of Apple by messing around with things they did not create themselves or don’t have a strong vision for domination of. This feels like a HUGE distraction. 

    • ginidietrich

       @rustyspeidel I can’t imagine they would do it. I think it’s only speculation right now. I hope it’s only speculation.

  • rustyspeidel

    What makes Apple products work is closed loops. Controlled, closed loops.

  • ginidietrich

    @meltonthomas And thank you for tweeting it

  • ginidietrich

    @nigelcameron Or invest it in @spinsuckspro 🙂

    • n3rd00

      @ginidietrich twitter has such marketing data, who wouldn’t want to

  • ginidietrich

    @dc2fla Do you think anyone should buy Twitter? Or should they go at it alone?

  • daveegauthier

    I agree entirely with this post. While Apple has some eyebrows raised on their entry into the television market, I think it remains within their range dictated by their ‘laser focus’. It would be uncharacteristic of the, to acquire Twitter. And ill-advised.

    • ginidietrich

       @daveegauthier I hope they listen to us mere mortals.

  • arnteriksen

    @ginidietrich Good post, Gini 🙂 And I totally agree with you

    • ginidietrich

      @arnteriksen It seems silly … but that’s why it’s called speculation, I guess

  • The misconception a lot of people are having with Twitter being bought by Apple is that because Apple is competing with Google and Google has a social network, Apple wants in on the action. Who’s to say that Apple wants their own social network? They’re killing it in quite a few areas.
    As far as Twitter not making a cent, that’s not the case. They made $139.5 Million last year. Is it worth $9 Billion based on sales to date? Absolutely not. Is Twitter worth $9 Billion based on the number of users and data they have about those users? Possibly.

    • ginidietrich

       @mikestenger I don’t even see how they compete with Google, other than the Android…and only because it costs less. It’s like horses competing with cars.

      • Google is easily one of Apple’s biggest competitors right now. The iPhone alone accounted for over 50% of their revenue last quarter and if you take into account the iPad as well, you’re looking at over 70% of their revenue is from iOS devices.
        Like horses competing with cars is all a matter of opinion. Some people love iOS, some people love Android. Both are doing extremely well.

    • trontastic

       @mikestenger How do you see Apple competing with Google any more than anyone else is?

      •  @trontastic Please read the above comment. I was meaning to tag you in it.

  • ChicagoCabbie

    @ginidietrich I think Apple is trying to beat #Google & investing in blooming social media #Twitter is a good use of all the money they’ve

  • ChicagoCabbie

    @ginidietrich Now question is, is that a good idea? well, I think we really don’t know.

  • ryancox

    They’ve got 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..000,000,045.18 in cash. Apple has to buy something/one.

  • jeremykeller

    @ryanleecox if apple buys twitter, I’ll buy you a steak dinner. #nothappening or at least #shouldneverhappen

  • I like what you’re saying Gini about contributing what they’re good at and allying with and leveraging the influence of all of the networks vs. setting themselves to butt heads directly with all of them in a vehicle that out of all of them has proven to be nothing but a cash suck for all these years.

  • ginidietrich

    @kaetlynnd LOL!!

  • SpinSucks

    @swagclubdaily Yep, I agree with Gini too. – Lisa

  • evasnijders

    @mandomando Hombre, no olvides Ping. XD XD XD

    • mandomando

      @evasnijders jaJAJAJJAjajaja … me vas a sacar un lagrima de la risa Eva ..aplausos!!!

      • evasnijders

        @mandomando Confieso que me estaba riendo sola en el bar y la gente me miraba raro. XD XD XD

        • mandomando

          @evasnijders Somos dos. Freak pride! XD

  • Nice and great post.
    Thanks & regards.

  • “A company gets big and greedy so they start to go after similar industries, and lose focus on what they do really well. Then they begin to lose profits and, in some cases, cease to exist.”
    Are you sure you’re not talking also about FB and Big G? Because this is a definition that applies to all three, and not only them. 🙂
    Anyway it’s interesting to see all those monopoly-lovers corporations fighting each other. They all want to rule the world.

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