Apple Just Missed This Acquisition

That didn't take long at all. Almost exactly one month ago, I predicted that Mailbox would be acquired within the next 12 months. Well, the small start-up with an innovative new email app has now indeed been purchased -- with 11 months to spare.

I was hoping that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) would acquire the company and its talent, which would have been a boon for iOS interface design, since Mailbox features intuitive gestures and Apple's interface design has lagged in recent years. The iPhone maker's been playing it safe by not venturing too far outside of the box, and buying Mailbox could have helped change that. Apple exec Eddy Cue's son Adam Cue is a software engineer at Mailbox's parent company, which made this union seemingly likely.

Previously, Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) went and acquired Sparrow, another innovative email client that was exclusive to Apple platforms. My fear was that Google would swoop in again and purchase Mailbox too, further diverting talented developers away from the iOS platform. However, Google's in less need of interface talent than Apple at this point, in part because it still has Matias Duarte leading interface design.

It turns out that neither Apple nor Google was the Mailbox buyer. Instead, Mailbox was acquired for an undisclosed sum by a much smaller company: Dropbox.

With our boxes combined, we are Captain Llama
Dropbox has picked up Mailbox after realizing that the two companies had similar goals, even though one is primarily cloud storage service and the other is an email service.

Source: Dropbox.

According to Dropbox's blog announcement, both companies seek to make people's lives easier by reimagining productivity. Dropbox is a complement to local storage, while Mailbox makes email better. According to Mailbox's blog announcement, the end result of the acquisition will be... an exploding llama. Joining forces with the larger start-up will allow Mailbox to grow faster, since it's been slowly adding users with a reservation system to give its servers some room to breathe.

In all likelihood, Apple explored a possible acquisition of Mailbox behind closed doors but for whatever reason decided to pass. If that's the case, I just hope price wasn't the deal breaker, since Apple has plenty of cash to spare.

There's a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.


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  • Report this Comment On March 15, 2013, at 10:33 PM, H3D wrote:

    "...and Apple's interface design has lagged in recent years. "

    This is the Apple that just changed the face of computing by making the touch smartphone and tablet practical and ubiquitous with the genius of their touch based user interface design?

    You really have lost the plot.

  • Report this Comment On March 15, 2013, at 10:55 PM, Plimeter wrote:

    H3D...

    I agree with your comment. The introduction of iOS is arguably the most significant development in computing in the last 20 years. I prefer tweaks over time rather than a wholesale revamp. I recently got a new computer at work that came with Office 2010, replacing my 2003 version. What a pain! I had to relearn how to use Word and Excel, and got very little in the way of new features that are of any real value.

  • Report this Comment On March 15, 2013, at 10:58 PM, greenember wrote:

    @H3D They didn't JUST change it, it was 6 years already. That's eternity in tech. But still, I don't think the interface is the big issue

  • Report this Comment On March 15, 2013, at 10:59 PM, greenember wrote:

    @Plimeter I agree, they ruined Office

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