Apple rumored to be dipping into its savings to acquire Color Labs

color appOne minute Color Labs, creator of the photo-sharing social app Color, is closing down, then the next it’s not, and now there’s a rumor it’s about to be purchased by Apple. No matter which one is true, it has certainly put then app-the-world-forgot back in the news.

Today’s rumor comes from TheNextWeb.com, where “trusted sources” say Apple is about to hand over a figure in the high tens of millions for company, and perhaps more importantly, its patent portfolio. The patents up for grabs include those related to GPS, battery saving, group content sharing and HD video recording.

Forbes.com points out that Color has a trademark on its name, and an acquisition would also nab the desirable color.com URL. It also says that Google offered to purchase Color before it launched, and suggests that Apple wants to keep the patents out of Google’s hands.

The report says that Color founder Bill Nguyen has thrashed out a deal with Apple thanks in part to an existing relationship with Eddy Cue, Apple’s VP of Internet Software and Services. Apple also purchased Lala, an online music startup and another Nguyen project, back in 2009. It’s said the Color deal is complete, and only needs a few signatures before it’s final.

If the acquisition rumor is true, it clarifies Color’s statement that “Color is not shutting down,” which under the acquisition scenario, it’s not.

An acquisition would also net Apple some more talent, of which there should be plenty inside the company. Just before Color launched, a report in The Wall Street Journal from March 2011 told the story of how Sequoia Capital got involved with the project. They apparently told Nguyen — after a 45-minute demonstration — that the concept was “transformative” and “not since Google have we seen this.”

Throwing $25 million at the company was supposed to accelerate five years of development into one, which would be achieved by hiring the “best-of-the-best engineers who will rapidly iterate and advance this terrific product.”

Apple rarely talks about its acquisitions, but Color may spill the beans, should there be any truth to this new rumor.

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