If Apple does indeed have $12 billion in cash and easy liquidity, then what to do? Purchase Yahoo? Or perhaps North Dakota? Business Week suggests that big-time acquisitions are passé, and that the smart play is to turn a portion of that money into venture capital. It's a neat idea, not so much because of actual return potential, but because it would give Apple a prestige arm that could be seen kindly raining cash on numerous little guys. Excellent PR, a good way to counterspin rumors , and if something productive comes out of it, so much the better. Spinning off VC operations is the new black, Valley-wise ... just ask Tim O'Reilly .