News: I, Cringely » Apple’s Money - Cringely on technology

06 September 2011 12:14 PM CDT

This is a brilliant perspective on the massive pile of cash Apple has on hand. For those of you who don't know, Apple has a gigantic cash hoard.  They currently have somewhere north of $70 billion in cash.  That's a lot of money.  People often question why Apple holds so much cash.  They speculate that Apple certainly doesn't need that much money for acquisitions, or for research and development, or for anything else.  Many believe Apple should distribute the cash as a dividend, or use it to buy back stock.  Apple doesn't do stuff like that.  Yes, they've made a few acquisitions, and of course they fund some pretty serious research and development.  However, this blog post tells an incredible story of another use Apple has found for it's giant pile of cash.  Apple is the world's largest buyer of things like flash memory and touch panel glass.  They have a giant lead on the competition when it comes to getting their hands on supply.  Furthermore, this has allowed them to get ahold of some of the newest technology (because they buy everything produced before anyone else can use it).  Because they have so much cash they can negotiate purchase orders that are so large they finance the construction of new production facilities. As a result they can get a 15% to 20% discount on their orders.  That's a very clever use of funds in an era of 1% interest rates.