Apple buying Yelp makes perfect sense – in 6 months or less?

Apple has been firing all cylinders, in every business they have been in past few years. In fact, almost a decade. This is unprecedented. Not even Google could do that.

One thing that stands out for Apple compared to others in its size and magnitude is that it has not acquired any in the web space. Sure they did buy a chip company here and there, but web space? None. They are a big player on the web with its mobileme, in-house apps and third party apps. They also have 30 billion$ waiting in their wings. Steve Jobs himself made a mention that the cash cushion can be of use for good buyouts late last year, especially in this economy.

Yelp. It is a fantastic story of linking local businesses to people, with location awareness. It absolutely fits Apple’s way of doing its micro-payment style business.  Add Apple’s solid micro-payment scheme, its huge itune user base, Yelp’s phenomenal growth and content of almost every business information with reviews around the block wherever you are, Apple will have another multi-billion$ solid winner. It could make yelp as critical as maps and have it on its prime real estate – the iPhone’s home page.

Why it fits Apple more than anyone else? Consider other possible suitors. Facebook? They won’t pay as much or won’t be able to monetize it as much as Apple can although Robert Scoble seems to think Facebook is the right one. Google? Same story. The best fit for Yelp is the company with best web reach and device on the mobile platform. It can only be Apple. No one else. Google does not even come close with its Android platform way behind iPhone, nor is Facebook. With Yelp, Apple can add on-demand local businesses to its on-demand suite of music/videos/applications in an integrated way that could be a blockbuster.

I predict Apple will buy Yelp in 6 months or less.

Raghu Kulkarni,