It seems that Google and Apple might be in another bidding war… this time to acquire BOKU, a payment startup which aims to bring “bank-grade payments technology” to mobile gadgets like the iPhone or iPad.
According to Techcrunch, BOKU president and CEO Mark Britto along with co-founder Ron Hirson have been holding meetings with high-placed executives in Apple’s iPhone business during the last three weeks.
Simultaneously, BOKU seems to be sitting patiently as Google sniffs them out. They have apparently met with Google’s Director of Engineering Michael Morrisey, who oversees Google Mobile Services for Android.
The Google meetings might just be business as usual, as Google Mobile Services for Android includes the Android Marketplace, which accepts BOKU as an option for in-app purchases.
The Apple meeting seems to be juicier, though. On the one hand, it’s possible (although not likely) that Apple might simply want to bring BOKU as a payment option to the App Store. On the other, it’s never safe to bet on Apple moving conservatively, and if they are talking with BOKU at all, it seems likely that they have grander goals than just matching the payment options in the Android Store.
Either way, with $50 billion in the bank, it’s clear that Apple intends on buying some new businesses… and it’s also clear that after the fiasco of AdMob, they aren’t willing to let Google buy a company out from under their nose again.
We’ll say one thing for this rumor though: it makes a hell of a lot more sense that Apple would buy BOKU than buy Sony.