Who wants to buy Apple and why? Why would anybody want to buy a company that is in the kind of trouble Apple is in right now? Rumour has it that Sun Microsystems and Oracle are interested. Oracle's chief executive Larry Ellison has expressed an interest in the past, but this time his interest is said to be personal: he does not want Apple for Oracle, he wants it for himself. The fact that accomplished businessmen such as those running Sun and the likes of Mr Ellison are interested must surely speak volumes about the company' worth. Many computer manufacturers - mainly the Wintel camp of Microsoft/Intel - have been hinting for over a year that Apple is dead. So what is it about Apple that makes these chaps want to buy it? One thing for certain is the price would be dirt cheap. Apple has spent extremely large sums of money on research and development and much of what it has achieved in this area is not valued on paper. One rumour concerning Sun is that it is interested in Apple's Newton division. However, one must wonder why Sun would want to buy the whole shop if it only wanted part of it. If Mr Ellison were to buy Apple one must ask what he would want it for. His interest is most likely to be the network computer. But again, why buy the bakery when all you want is a pie? That leaves us with Mr Ellison wanting Apple executive Steve Jobs to take the top job at the firm again. Mr Jobs is recognised as one of the most influential figures in the personal computing world. Great pioneers, however, are not always the sort of people one wants running a company, particularly a US$8 billion one that is in trouble. Mr Jobs is a visionary and probably one of the great salesmen of recent times. One ought not to forget, however, that he previously left Apple - or was asked to leave - because he was not running it well. Apple is a large company, but it maintains the mentality of a one that began in somebody's garage. There are many of us who may even think that is a good thing. Unfortunately, for a company to survive today, it takes a little more than that. The only way Apple can even attempt to maintain the balance of being a 'cool' company and being a successful one is to let someone like Gilbert Amelio, the present chief, get on with his job. Some things we all treasure will go, of course, and people will moan and groan. It seems to me that Apple would only be a good buy to those who would want to cut it up and throw away what they did not want. It may well be that Apple will ultimately have to become a software company. There are worse fates. Microsoft, after all, is a software company.