Shares of content delivery network Akamai Technologies (AKAM) took an unexpected dive this morning. Why? A reader points to a post on stock-trading message board theflyonthewall.com: “Shares of Akamai may be declining today due to a rumour that the company’s relationship with Apple is going to end.”
Apple, which uses Akamai to push its iTunes music and movie downloads around the world, is one of the CDN’s best customers. So losing Apple’s business — especially as Steve Jobs is expected to announce a bandwidth-intensive movie rental service — would be bad news for Akamai.
Either way, it’s not true, according to a source familiar with the situation — Apple is not leaving Akamai.
Some of this speculation could be coming from a recent column by PBS technology pundit Robert X. Cringely, who, for the second year in a row, predicted earlier this month that Apple would ditch Akamai for a Google-powered bandwidth service.
So for a minute, let’s play along. Why would Apple ditch Akamai? They’re probably getting some of Akamai’s best pricing, so cost isn’t likely much of an issue — unless someone else is willing to provide comparable or better service for free.
Google and Apple are close partners, and Google chief Eric Schmidt is on Apple’s board. Google operates a massive telecommunications and distributed-computing infrastructure, and could conceivably get into the CDN/high-end hosting business if it wants to. And if Google does decide to take on Akamai, Limelight Networks (LLNW), and other CDNs, Apple would be one of the best marquee clients it could flaunt.
So it’s plausible. But for now, we’re not convinced this is anything more than someone’s creative — but false — rumour.
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