Is Apple using its mountains of cash to build a time machine?

People have ascribed all sorts of paranormal abilities to Steve Jobs... but could he have spurred Apple to create a time machine? That's what an anonymous poster at Quora hinted, and the post was picked up by Forbes' Brian Caulfield.

But don't worry, paradox-phobes. It's not a literal time machine. Rather, it's a way of doing business that allows Apple to have access to technology that's years ahead of its time, right now.

"If it feels like new Apple products appear futuristic, it is because Apple really is sending back technology from the future," says the Quora poster.

As the poster explains:

When new component technologies (touchscreens, chips, LED displays) first come out, they are very expensive to produce, and building a factory that can produce them in mass quantities is even more expensive. Oftentimes, the upfront capital expenditure can be so huge and the margins are small enough (and shrink over time as the component is rapidly commoditized) that the companies who would build these factories cannot raise sufficient investment capital to cover the costs.

What Apple does is use its cash hoard to pay for the construction cost (or a significant fraction of it) of the factory in exchange for exclusive rights to the output production of the factory for a set period of time (maybe 6 – 36 months), and then for a discounted rate afterwards.

On the other hand, maybe there actually is a rogue TARDIS somewhere in Cupertino? It would make me way happier about my Genius Bar experiences if I knew all of Apple's money was actually going towards cracking the secrets of the fourth dimension. [Quora via Forbes]

Steve Jobs photo via Getty Images.