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What if Apple bought eBay, asks former boss

Former Apple boss John Sculley reckons a big acquisition by Apple would do something bigger than "just introducing a television set."

What if, what if, what if? Let's put our speculation' hats on for a second and ask: what if Apple bought eBay? That's the question posed by Apple's former boss -- who reckons it would change online shopping forever.

John Sculley, who ran Apple for a decade while Steve Jobs was off doing other things, reckons the iPhone and iPad builder could innovate by spending some of its huge cash pile on a big name.

As a f'r instance, Sculley posits that if you combine eBay and its payment arm PayPal with Apple's Passbook and the fingerprint recognition technology of the iPhone 5S, then "the whole landscape of e-commerce would change."

Apple has never made a big acquisition, preferring to buy small companies with novel technology that can be absorbed into its own development. But Sculley sees a big buy as a potential alternative to the suggestions of Wall Street high muckamuck Carl Icahn, who wants Apple to spend its multibillion pile of cash to buy back stock from shareholders.

'Instead of just introducing a television set' 

Sculley is just spitballing here, but his theory is that Apple could make a big leap in innovation by joining forces with another big name rather than punting out more gadgets -- in other words, doing something bigger than than "just introducing a television set."

eBay makes revenues of $14bn per year. It's market cap -- the total value of its shares at today's stock prices -- is $70.5bn. 

Sculley was persuaded to leave Pepsi and join Apple in 1983 when Steve Jobs asked him "Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life or do you want to come with me and change the world?" Just two years later, Jobs was driven out by Sculley, only returning after Sculley left the company.

Should Apple treat itself to a big acquisition? Is eBay the right target, or someone else? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or treat yourself on our Facebook wall.