Don't wait up for that Apple Bravia television or Mac PS3 console, though. This deal isn't going to happen. It's just another case of analysts dreaming out loud after Apple's coy plans for deploying its enviable $51 billion war chest.
Let's go over a few reasons why this just isn't going to happen.
1. Sony isn't Apple's way into your living room
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster turned heads this summer, suggesting the possibility of Apple rolling out high-def televisions as early as 2012.
It was laughable at the time. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) and Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) flopped when they figured that their success in moving large PC monitors would transition easily into LCD televisions. Why should Apple be any different?
Oh, that's right. This is Apple. If Apple does crank out an HDTV with its proven iOS platform and its history of stylistic superiority, everyone knows more than a few people who would pay a premium for that.
If Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) is able to market its Google TV more effectively than Apple's new set-top interface, it's probably because Google already has a partner making flat screens with Google TV built in. Oh, and that partner happens to be Sony.
I'll concede that I can see Apple making a bigger play for home theater components in a few years, but why would it buy Sony to get there? Sony has one of the best-recognized brands in this space. Wouldn't it be far easier -- and cheaper -- to either partner with a lesser brand or buy a small manufacturer that it can simply slap its Apple brand on after a few stylistic and technological upgrades?
2. Apple is already playing the gaming market the right way
The video game industry has been in a funk for nearly two years, and Apple is a major reason for the malaise.
The three gaming giants -- including both Sony and Apple rival Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) -- are struggling. They have had to mark down their consoles, and now gamers aren't so keen on forking over $60 for a console title -- or $30 for a handheld game -- when Apple's App Store has populated the planet with free and $0.99 diversions.
Obviously, the specs on Sony's PS3 -- and to a lesser extent the PSP -- are far superior to gaming on an iPod touch. The games are better. Sony and Microsoft aren't losing their die-hard console gamers, but they are surrendering the casual gamers who made this a mainstream niche.
Apple doesn't need this. There are now around 300,000 downloads available through its App Store marketplace for the more than 100 million devices running on its iOS platform -- and we're only two years into this movement.
3. Sony has more conflicts of interests than synergy points
Sony isn't just about hardware. It also runs one of the leading movie studios and watches over one of the largest major music labels.
Do I really need to point out the obvious problem here? There's just no way that Apple comes out ahead by owning motion picture and prerecorded music content.
Rival studios and labels would be weary of striking content deals that empower Apple's iTunes and Apple TV initiatives. These are also finicky -- and one can argue, fading -- forms of media in tomorrow's leveled playing field.
Even the digital distribution play that was once hailed as the mother of all lifeboats is taking on water. Warner Music Group (NYSE: WMG ) posted a 10% sequential decline in digital music in its latest quarter, and Web-delivered video purchases and rentals are also losing out to free alternatives and unlimited streaming plans.
It just won't happen
Move along folks. There's nothing to see here.
Sony won't have to kowtow to a Western suitor. Apple shareholders won't have to worry about being held back by Sony's single-digit sales growth and sandbagging margins.
I do believe that Apple will pick up the pace on the acquisitions front. There is too much money sitting on its balance sheet collecting too little interest income. It won't issue a dividend, because it doesn't need to. It won't aggressively buy back shares, because it will decrease its total market cap. Going shopping is the logical plan, but please let it also be spent on logical purchases.
No offense, Sony. You're just not it.
What should Apple do with its $51 billion? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.