With Facebook’s purchase of Instagram for $1 billion, the Internet is on fire with commentaries and evaluations of the blockbuster deal. But the important company no one seems to be talking about is Apple.

I read Nikita Korotaev’s response that Apple should have acquired Instagram. He’s on the right track, but missed the mark. Apple won’t buy Instagram, Apple doesn’t need to get in to the social game. Apple needs to get in to the total digital experience game. And that isn’t done by buying a photo sharing service.

Apple isn’t competing with Facebook. Apple competes with Google and Amazon. For Apple to get the upper hand, they’ll need to go bold.

In the next 24 months Apple will buy Hulu or Netflix.

Apple will purchase Hulu or Netflix

Facebook had to get the upper hand in the photo sharing game. Let’s face it, Facebook’s photo sharing service stunk. Instagram was the darling child of social photo sharing, and now Facebook has gone out and bought out the competition. Facebook isn’t a high profit business yet, it needs users to stick around.

Apple is a for-profit business, it will acquire only that which adds value to its services.

Personally, I think Hulu is where Apple will go, but Netflix is a close second. Here’s why:

  • FACT: Apple has a robust movie and tv show rental system already in place with iTunes.
  • FACT: Apple has a strong hold on the mobile and tablet market, and makes it easy to stream between devices.
  • FACT: Apple has plenty of cash on hand. $76 billion plenty.
  • FACT: Buying Hulu ($1-2 billion valuation) or Netflix ($3-4 billion valuation) won’t make a dent in Apple’s coffers.
  • FACT: Apple has a great existing relationship with the movie studios.
  • FACT: Apple brought the record industry into the 21st century with iTunes music downloads. So it knows how to do it.
  • FACT: Apple has no instant streaming offering that isn’t a pay per rental.

More and more people are ditching their satellite and cable and opting to go online for TV. And with just a pay per rental option, Apple lags behind the competition. Netflix and Hulu are king in the land of online movies and TV. Amazon is making up ground with its Instant Streaming service. It’s only a matter of time before Google decides to get in the game and add streaming TV to its Google Play service. And where does that leave Apple?

Apple & Hulu Instant Streaming Will Be Proactive, Not Reactive.

To stay ahead of the Google and Amazon competition, Apple will have to add instant streaming to its product offering. Apple is a proactive company, not reactive. It will need to make the jump into the movie and TV instant streaming business before Google does and before Amazon can get a strong foot in the instant streaming space.

Free hulu subscription when you buy Apple TV?

iAds has fallen flat. Ping never really took off. But iTunes is still the place. Apple can’t make enough iPhones and iPads to keep up with demand. What’s missing? Instant streaming of movies and TV to make Apple the single provider of the digital experience for today’s consumers. What do you think? I think that Apple will finally make a move this year and get into the instant streaming business.