Should Apple Acquire Square and Foursquare?

Mor Naaman makes the case for an acquisition of Square and Foursquare by Apple:

To summarize: after the deal, Apple will immediately become a giant payments company, with an installation base that is expected to encompass half of all mobile devices sold. The company will have the best local search abilities, far exceeding any existing recommendation engine. And due to its enormous reach, it will possess a payment system that merchants will line up to support. Who’s betting against this holy trinity? Not me.

The possibilities are certainly intriguing, and Naaman crunches some interesting numbers to show how making these two products “native” on iOS would benefit all the parties involved in terms of adoption, financials, and innovation. Obviously, while the possibility of Apple acquiring other companies always leads to interesting speculation and discussions, we should also keep in mind how Apple has been considering integration with third-party services lately. Twitter, for instance, didn’t get acquired by Apple, yet its mobile usage surged since the native implementation in iOS. While not nearly as “mainstream” as Twitter, Foursquare would certainly make for a possible third-party candidate to be directly supported in iOS, at least in theory (in practice, how would Apple implement a check-in service at a system level?).

It gets even more intriguing with Square. The company is very Apple-like in its approach to design and marketing, but it relies on extra hardware to work securely with credit cards. Assuming Apple would like, someday, to enter the mobile payment scene with the iPhone — perhaps through the oft-rumored NFC — wouldn’t it make more sense for Apple to consider an all-iPhone technology that handles payments exclusively through iOS and embedded hardware? A while ago, some people suggested Apple could even play around its marketing taglines and call an iOS payment feature “AirPay”. I actually believe such strategy would be perfect to push a possible next iPhone as an independent, no-extra-dongles-necessary payment device.

Location and payments are two areas that Apple will eventually address via new hardware and software, and Naaman makes a good case for the two biggest players in the field. Apple is also expected to show new features of iOS and OS X Mountain Lion at the WWDC 2012, which kicks off on June 11 in San Francisco.