It could be the M&A deal of the century. During an Apple earnings call, chief executive Steve Jobs suggested the company might spend an astonishing $51 billion in cash on one or two "strategic opportunities." What about Facebook, suggests Peter Kafka at All Things Digital. The company's $30 to $40 billion market cap puts it in the right price range — plus, it has the potential to take on Google, "which has to make Jobs like it even more." And if news reports are to be believed, Jobs recently met with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in Palo Alto. Is an Apple-Facebook marriage in the works?

A link-up would make sense: Apple and Facebook have a lot in common, says Tom Kaneshige at Network World. "Both are innovative companies with a rebellious history and, critically, are icons of their respective generations." It's not as if they're completely separate entities, either. Apple's Ping is a move into the "social networking game," while Facebook is a huge hit on the iPhone and iPad.
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Ain't going to happen: Apple won't be buying Facebook, says Darrell Etherington at Business Week. Why would it spend a "huge chunk" of cash buying a company that would be a "massive distraction from its main lines of business"? Sure, buying Facebook would help Ping — Apple's music-based social network — thrive. But that would "be like targeting a fly with a nuclear bomb."
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Zuckerberg won't sell: It would be a "strong investment" as far as Apple is concerned, says John Brownlee at Cult of Mac, allowing it to become a "credible threat" to Google. But "my guess is that Zuckerberg is in this for a long haul." Facebook could topple Google in its own right. "Simply cashing out for the money" doesn't make sense for the 26-year-old right now.
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