Apple Inc is in early talks to join the bidding for Hulu, the online video site that Walt Disney Co, News Corp and its other owners have put up for sale. Hulu's owners, which also include Comcast Corp's NBC Universal and Providence Equity Partners, have begun preliminary sale talks with about a dozen potential buyers, including Google Inc and Microsoft Corp.
Hulu is expected to have 1 million paid subscribers by the end of summer, earlier than previously forecast.
Many will remember that Apple bought Lala, a site that offered free music and shut it down to drive people to their own iTunes service. Their attempt to buy Hulu strikes me as being another anti-competitive move, this time to put a site for videos (many of them free and ad-sponsored) out of business.
Hulu, whose tag line is: "Watch your favorites. Anytime. For Free." has been a significant addition to the way people watch movies and television. Their disappearance, merely so Apple can drive more people to buy videos from their own iTunes store, would be a great loss.
Despite my enormous admiration for Apple as a company, in my opinion, this needs to fail. Hulu's corporate culture would be a much better fit for Google (whose informal corporate motto is "Don't Be Evil")--a company that knows that you can still become a great technology company by giving some things away (such as G-Mail, Google Chat, Google Apps, Chrome OS, YouTube, Google Video, and a long list of other initiatives that have transformed the way we use the internet).