Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, has said that he believes the House of Mouse would have merged with Apple had founder Steve Jobs not passed away.
Jobs died from pancreatic cancer in 2011, following a turbulent relationship with Disney thanks to its dealings with Pixar.
Apple became a major shareholder in the animation studio when it became a corporation in 1986, and they began collaborating with Disney around 1999, with the release of Toy Story 2.
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But the two companies frequently clashed over financing, distribution and ownership of intellectual property.
Jobs and former Disney CEO Michael Eisner also fell out personally, with Iger writing in a new memoir (via Vanity Fair): “In January 2004, Steve made a very public, in-your-face announcement that he would never deal with Disney again.”
Ultimately, a deal for Disney to acquire Pixar went through in 2006, with Disney buying the studio for $7.4 billion in stocks.
Jobs became Disney's largest individual shareholder, owning seven percent of the company, as well as being made a board member.
In the memoir The Ride of A Lifetime: Lessons From 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Iger goes on to say: “I believe that if Steve were still alive, we would have combined our companies, or at least discussed the possibility very seriously.
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“With every success the company has had since Steve’s death, there’s always a moment in the midst of my excitement when I think, ‘I wish Steve could be here for this'.”
The two companies will now be going head to head in the streaming market instead.
Both Disney and Apple launch their streaming platforms, Disney+ and Apple TV+, in November.