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Three ways Apple could spend $163 billion besides a big acquisition

Apple Inc. has promised to spend $163 billion in cash, leading to breathless speculation about large acquisitions.

That type of spending is not like Apple AAPL, -0.35% however. The company’s largest acquisition was headphone maker Beats Electronics Inc., for $3 billion, and the next largest was NeXT, the merger that brought Steve Jobs back to Apple. While Apple has reportedly checked in on some potential large targets, the company is much more likely to spend much of the cash in three areas: Original content, bringing down the costs of manufacturing its signature iPhone, and rewarding investors.

Here’s a closer look at those potential approaches.

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