Macworld readers have come out in favour of Apple remaining independent – although 55 per cent of readers did have a preferred merger partner.

Macworld's reader poll asked which company Apple should merge with, following news of the planned buy-out of Compaq by Hewlett-Packard. While 45 per cent voted for Apple's continued independence, the rest opted for a wide range of possible business partners for the Mac maker.

Top of the potential suitors (with 20 per cent of the vote) was Japanese mega-corporation Sony – like Apple famed for its innovative inventions, such as the Walkman, and for its portable computers (Vaio).

Here comes the Sun Half as many voted for a merger with Sun Microsystems, creator of Java. Of course, Apple has twice previously attempted an actual merger with Sun - in 1994 and 1996.

SGI – famous for its 3D graphics workstations and Alias|Wavefront subsidiary that makes Maya, recently ported to Mac OS X – gained the support of 8 per cent of Macworld readers.

While the monopolies authorities wouldn't like it, 2 per cent of Macworld readers suggested that Microsoft should join forces with Apple. Adobe (voted for by 7 per cent) seems a more natural fit. A joint Apple-Macromedia company was supported by just 2 per cent of voters.

Apple should merge with the super-Internet/media organization of AOL/Netscape Time Warner thought a less than convincing 1 per cent of voters.

Surprisingly, 0 per cent of voters thought Hewlett-Packard a likely partner, and the same percentage of voters thought that Kodak could be an interesting ally.