Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

Apple and Disney have history – Steve Jobs was Disney’s biggest shareholder with a seat on the board of directors… but a merger would not have been as out of the question as you may think, so lets dig into what if… Apple bought Disney. And let’s be honest. It couldn’t be worse than Chapek.

Steve Jobs was born in 1955. The same year that Walt’s first Park, Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California. 50 years before Apple was created in 1978, Walt Disney and partner Ub Iwerks (and yes, we know iWork would become important later) were putting Mickey Mouse in his first cartoon, Steamboat Willie.

Both Steve and Walt have both been described as creative genius…es and visionaries, and without Steve’s confidence in the team at The Graphics Group of Lucasfilm’s computer division, it may be that Disney would be much smaller than it is today. That graphics group was renamed “Pixar” after Steve acquired it from George Lucas.

So let’s jump across the Multiverse to the version where not only did Disney acquire Pixar from Jobs, but the two companies later merged into a single creative behemoth.

The Walt Disney Company

Disney is of course a huge company spanning not only their movie division that is home to Marvel, Pixar, Touchstone, Star Wars and 20th Century Fox, but ABC, ESPN and Disney Plus on the TV and streaming side, Disney Records, their own stores, merchandise and a parks division.

Of course a lot of this crosses over with what Apple is doing now, with Apple TV+ Apple Music, Apple Stores and… Apple Park? Okay that one’s a stretch. Probably not exactly comparable to a theme park.

Once Disney merged the Pixar team into the company, John Lasseter took the top spot at Disney’s animation division as well as being named a principle creative advisor at Walt Disney Imagineering, the department in charge of Disney’s Park attractions and in person experiences.  Steve Jobs and John Lasseter had worked closely together at Pixar, and we can only imagine that a combined company would have made use of his experience in their in person locations – ie Apple Stores.

Disney Parks

Apple’s influence could cross over to the Disney Parks too – Specifically the TomorrowLand areas of Magic Kingdom parks have a way of being out of date really quickly, as well as Epcot’s Future World. Bringing Apple’s clean, retro future aesthetic to some of those areas could work really well, and Apple’s tech would be useful throughout the parks.

Right now, Disney’s Magic Band is an NFT wristband that allows resort guests access to their rooms, ability to charge food, drink and merchandise at Disney parks to their room account and acts as their park entry ticket and fast pass access for rides (or at least it did, things may have changed with Disney’s incredibly popular Genie program).

Imagine your Apple Watch (or one you’re loaned for the visit) replacing that functionality, but also being able to remind you when shows you want to see are about to start, letting you know when the wait lines at rides on your wish list are short and otherwise helping you make the most of your visit to the parks. It would even help you find members of your party if you get separated, removing much of the stress of being a parent with small kids at the park.

You could even skip lines at the food outlets by ordering on the watch from their menu, simply collecting at the counter as soon as your order is ready. You could also join virtual queues from anywhere in the park, reserving your place on the ride and just arriving at your allocated time.

Stores and Products

While Disney over the past few years has been closing huge amounts of stores, with just 22 now remaining in North America, Apple now has 272 in the US and 247 overseas, for a total of 519 locations worldwide. Apple also has the highest average spend per square foot in their stores of any store in the world. Unsurprisingly I guess, given the average selling price of their products.

But in terms of products, there are massive opportunities for crossover, and if you don’t think I got @Apple_Tomorrow to help me show you what they could look like, its like you’ve never watched my videos before. How about a range of iPhone colourways that tie in with Marvel movie releases. We’re not talking garish branding but colour combinations that evoke characters and optional wallpapers. Candy Red and Gold for Iron Man, Green & Purple for Hulk, Red & Blue for Captain America (or, let’s be honest, SpiderMan), Green & Yellow for Loki, Black & Red for Black Widow.

It gives Apple a way to launch special editions throughout the year, adds to the buzz for the movies (as Tech YouTubers will be all over these) and helps to boost iPhone sales outside the standard window between September and the holidays.

And the branding opportunities don’t have to end at Marvel – I’m sure there are some perfect tie ins with Star Wars and Pixar too – A kids Buzz Lightyear edition phone? A Mac Minnie? This video was certainly not made specifically for this pun, but if it was, I think it would have been worthwhile.

Politics

Here’s the bit where I probably get cancelled – but none the less. I doubt we’d be seeing the controversy that we have seen in recent months in Florida with the Don’t Say Gay laws and Disney dragging their feet to address the issue if Tim Cook was in charge. Would there still have been tensions between the company and the government over the issue, yes, but there would have been far less tensions amongst the employees at the parks, who were disappointed that Disney hadn’t addressed what was happening in the state. 

I’ve touched on a number of ways the two companies could combine here, but do you think it would have been a positive? What else do you think the combination could have brought to the table – Apple leveraging Disney’s supply chain to offer more Apple branded clothing? (I’d be down, and I’ve created this design over at iCaveDave.com/Merch, get it before someone sues me), and let me know in the comments what else the two companies could have done together. Maybe we’ll do a follow up!