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So after the Beats deal, MOGA is next for Apple, right?

What Apple won't do next
So after the Beats deal, MOGA is next for Apple, right?

The caprice of technology commentary is legendary and Apple's Beats deal gives us a screaming example.

With news that Apple was readying an acquisition of the luxury headphone manufacturer, Twitter was flush with cries of "It'll never happen!" and "This doesn't make sense!" to "Apple has never tried this strategy before".

Spin the dial forward to your current timeline and you will find op-ed pieces, Tweets, and personal blogs all commending Apple on what a smart move it has made and how it has set the scene for Tim Cook's dramatic second term as president of the tech universe.

And so, the narrative marches on - from "It doesn't make sense" to "It makes perfect sense" and then inexorably arriving at "I wonder who's next?".

This is a classic availability bias.

Availability bias

If on the way to work you spot two dog owners walking their pets and are then asked upon arrival at the office if your city has a high number of dog owners, you will likely say yes.

As you try to recall rational reasons for your answer, your mind reaches the nearest available example which colours your judgement, in spite of whether there are other good reasons for why dog ownership is perhaps not comparatively high in your city (if for example you live in a built up urbanised area for example).

Beats by Dre headphones, not dogs (at least, not woof, woof dogs)
Beats by Dre headphones, not dogs (at least, not woof, woof dogs)

It's this same availability bias that we tap into when thinking about technology trends, and it's visible now.

Will Apple acquire another tech company?

Let me think - have they done so recently? Golly gosh they have you know, so yes - they will. They will buy gamepad manufacturer MOGA and then go on to buy Sony, Nintendo, and broker a deal for the Xbox division while folding in a glut of first party games developers into the deal.

No, they won't.

In fact, I don't think we'll see Apple make any high profile tech acquisitions of this type again this year or next - certainly not of the glitzy variety that Beats is.

And if it did, I suspect a gaming company would be pretty far down the shopping list.

Offence vs. defence

Let's forget the numbers and just look at the raw strategy.

Apple's purchase of Beats is a defensive play. Apple has enjoyed pre-eminence in both digital music and digital music hardware in the form of iTunes and the iPod for more than a decade.

The market is changing and iTunes is now the old guard with an out of date pricing model, while dedicated music devices have gone from "must have" to "my mum used to have one of those".

Meanwhile, services like Pandora, Spotify, and SoundCloud have been gobbling up vast swathes of a brave new business landscape for digital music distribution.

Any strategic acquisition Apple could make in gaming would be an offence play - offence plays carry much greater risk and are far harder to justify.

Similarly, Beats has replaced the $200 spend reserved for an iPod five years ago, with headphones to compliment that sparkly smartphone in your pocket. Apple is - somewhat belatedly - deciding that it wants to continue to own those dollars and bagging Beats is a key part of defending that market segment for both hardware and software.

Now look at Apple's games strategy.

Again, foregoing numbers, it's clear that gaming is not a market segment that Apple is going out of its way to dominate in and yet, it's a fast growing area of its business - unlike its iPod division and iTunes album sales.

Any strategic acquisition Apple could make in gaming would be an offence play - offence plays carry much greater risk and are far harder to justify.

A simple choice

The choice between doing nothing, trying to make iTunes more attractive, and buying Beats is an easy one when faced with shrinking revenues in that area.

The choice to strike out with an expensive purchase in the boom or bust world of gaming, while that market segment seems to be effortlessly going gangbusters for you, is much, much harder.

And just who would Apple buy? If part of what was attractive about Beats was its executive talent, then the gaming world must look like a very scary place - EA, Zynga and Sony have had an executive revolving door for the last 24 months.

So don't go down the bookies to put a tenner on Apple snaffling up Nintendo by Christmas just yet - it has bigger fish to fry.

Mind you, I was one of the people saying the Beats deal would never happen, so you should probably disregard this whole article.

What was that I was saying about caprice in tech?