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Sun/Apple merger sparks interest

SunWorld Online readers favor Sun's buying Apple

By Carolyn W.C. Wong

March  1996
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The idea of Sun buying Apple isn't so crazy after all, according to our survey of SunWorld Online readers. Too bad the chances of it happening now seem next to nil. But when we first posted our survey with the February issue, rumors of Sun's possible takeover were the talk of the town. It certainly got our publisher and editor-in-chief bantering about their opposing points of view. (See February's editorial).

SunWorld Online readers, in the meantime, were more than enthused about a potential merger. By the end of February, 513 readers were moved to respond to our questions -- that's 208 more respondents than last month's Internet Toaster poll.

A whopping 74 percent believe that such a merger is good for both Sun and Apple. However, 32 percent feel that MacOS and Solaris should be kept separately. 30 percent do think that a Mac GUI should be offered for Solaris, and 25 percent want a MacOS port to SPARC. These folks mostly use Macs at home (52 percent) and at their businesses (50 percent). 62 percent use SPARC or Solaris machines at work.

What went wrong with Apple in the first place? An overwhelming majority blamed misguided management (74 percent), while poor price/performance and lousy advertising ranked second at 30 percent a piece. 25 percent found fault in non-compliance with standards. And let's not forget the more minor details: 70 percent would keep both companies' logos, and 18 percent would want the combined company to create a completely new logo.

Only time will tell what the future holds for Apple. But many readers believe (or believed) a merger is on the horizon. 31 percent think Apple should be purchased by a hardware firm. 57 percent view Sun as the best suitor. A measly 10 percent rank Motorola as the second best. Microsoft would be the worst (40 percent) along with IBM (12 percent). With or without Sun, 26 percent see a merger in two to six months, and 22 percent believe an acquisition will take place in six months to a year. 22 percent aren't sure of anything happening at all.
--Carolyn W.C. Wong


SunWorld Online February 1996 Reader Survey Results

Topic: Tell us what you think about the Sun/Apple merger

Number of respondents: 513
as of 4:00 p.m. on February 29, 1996

  1. Given what we know about Sun's rumored attempt to purchase Apple, what's your general opinion on this transaction?

        Good idea for both firms:                         74.0% 
        Good for Sun, bad for Apple:                       8.3% 
        Bad for Sun, good for Apple:                       9.1% 
        Bad idea for both firms:                           4.7% 
        I don't know:                                      3.9% 
  2. If Sun buys or merges with Apple, "Snapple" should

        Keep MacOS and Solaris separate:                  32.3% 
        Port MacOS to SPARC:                              24.6% 
        Offer a Mac GUI for Solaris:                      30.1% 
        None of the above:                                 7.3% 
        I don't know:                                      5.7% 
  3. If Sun buys or merges with Apple, the two companies should

        Use both logos:                                   69.8% 
        Keep the Sun logo, drop the Apple logo:           10.1% 
        Keep the Apple logo, drop the Sun logo:            2.6% 
        Create a new logo:                                17.6% 
  4. Apple's most recent quarter, traditionally a strong one, ended with a $69 million loss for the company. How did Apple find itself in this predicament? (select all that apply)

        Poor-performing hardware:                          9.0% 
        Poor-performing software:                         12.2% 
        Poor price/performance:                           29.9% 
        Lousy advertising:                                30.1% 
        Unfair competition:                               12.7% 
        Misguided management:                             74.3% 
        Buggy hardware or software:                        9.2% 
        Non-compliance with standards:                    24.5% 
        None of the above:                                 4.4% 
        I don't know:                                      4.0%
  5. Apple should

        Remain independent:                               17.0% 
        Merge with a hardware firm:                       30.9% 
        Merge with a software firm:                       14.8% 
        Merge with an entertainment/publishing firm:       4.0% 
        Merge with a consumer electronics firm:            3.6% 
        Merge with the highest bidder:                     5.2% 
        None of the above:                                 9.4% 
        I don't know:                                     15.0% 
  6. The best, most synergistic suitor for Apple is

        AT&T:                                              0.6% 
        Digital:                                           0.4% 
        Disney:                                            3.4% 
        Fujitsu:                                           0.2% 
        HP:                                                1.0% 
        IBM:                                               4.5% 
        Intel:                                             0.0% 
        Microsoft:                                         1.4% 
        Motorola:                                          9.7% 
        Oracle:                                            1.0% 
        SGI:                                               4.5% 
        Sony:                                              3.0% 
        Sun Microsystems:                                 57.4% 
        None of the above:                                 4.5% 
        I don't know:                                      8.5% 
  7. The worst, least synergistic suitor for Apple is

        AT&T:                                              7.5% 
        Digital:                                           3.6% 
        Disney:                                            6.7% 
        Fujitsu:                                           2.6% 
        HP:                                                1.2% 
        IBM:                                              12.1% 
        Intel:                                             8.5% 
        Microsoft:                                        40.3% 
        Motorola:                                          0.4% 
        Oracle:                                            5.0% 
        SGI:                                               0.4% 
        Sony:                                              2.0% 
        Sun Microsystems:                                  2.0% 
        None of the above:                                 1.6% 
        I don't know:                                      6.2% 
  8. I think Apple will merge/be purchased

        In the next two months:                           16.7% 
        From two to six months from now:                  26.0% 
        From six to 12 months form now:                   22.0% 
        A year or more from now:                          13.3%
        I don't know:                                     21.8% 
  9. I use an Apple computer (select all that apply)

        At home:                                          52.2% 
        At my place of business:                          50.2% 
        At school:                                        20.7% 
        I'm not an Apple user:                            30.3% 
  10. I use a SPARC or Solaris computer (select all that apply)

        At home:                                          16.7% 
        At my place of business:                          62.2% 
        At school:                                        16.5%
        I'm not a SPARC or Solaris user:                  29.1% 

Also see the file " Readers comment on the rumored Sun/Apple merger" for more.

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