Apple (AAPL)'s $15 Billion Spending Spree

Apple (AAPL) has spent the past few years minting money via iPod sales, and is now doing the same with the iPhone. That’s allowed the company to accumulate a $15 billion cash hoard — more than IBM, HPQ, INTC or GOOG, Fortune points out.

The magazine wonders what Steve Jobs intends to do with all that dough, and soberly discusses possible uses: Dividends, stock buybacks, a new corporate campus. Fine, but boring. (Even more boring: BusinessWeek’s Arik Hesseldahl soberly explains that Apple won’t do anything with the money, because it needs the cash as a hedge against supply chain problems). What if Steve wanted to make a big splash, and go on an M&A bender?

Fortune points that Apple could easily swallow Netflix (NFLX), Tivo and Circuity City (CC) and have plenty of cash left. But let’s think bigger: $15 billion can go along way. For instance, Steve could purchase Warner Music Group (WMG) and the other three big music labels, or at least a controlling stake in all of them. Or if he wanted to give his online video store a boost, he could go Hollywood: Buying Lions Gate Films (LGF) plus MGM would still leave him about half his cash pile. What else should be on his shopping list? Let us know in comments below.

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