The Withering of Apple Will Take Time
With Lance Armstrong as his guide, the author considers Apple.
I’ve stayed away from Apple for most of my career, and as a contrarian (bear mode), that has mostly resulted in much lost opportunity cost. It wasn’t just the stock price or company outlook I struggled to relate to. Wasn’t an iPod just like a Sony (NYSE:SNE) Walkman or my MP3 Player from Rhythm Networks? I didn’t get it.
It was like Lance Armstrong and bicycling. I rode all around town, might have sideswiped a few people, but those Spandex-clad “on your left” alpha males never endeared me. I can’t speak to Armstrong’s legacy but I doubt it can ever be what it might have been. Did he cheat? Within the rules, for sure. Within reality, no. He just twisted and covered better and won by pushing himself the hardest among a bunch of other cheaters. Did he use his stature to leverage and bully? Of course. And now he lies on his couch in Austin looking at some old smelly yellow shirts.
Likewise, the controversy over the sycophant flattery of Steve Jobs’ brilliant but abusive ways, was always resolved by pointing to the growing lines outside stores as new products were released. He was our Monster/Master and we embraced him. But now with a few missteps following his passing, an inferior maps app, questions of why even a mini iPad was needed, and most importantly the perceptional drift of becoming a bully that demands billions of dollars to patent the curves on a rectangle, has taken the bloom off the Apple rose.
Yes, Armstrong and Jobs both played with hard elbows, but they did ultimately deliver the best, nearly untouchable, performances over many years in an arena where competitors had the same access to all the same tools. However regulators defined the rules, the knowledge, gadgets, and tools, and winks were open and used equally across the playing field . Armstrong and Jobs embraced new ideas, innovated, and succeeded unlike any others. They are now gone, and the bloom is off the rose.
But the withering of Apple will take time. And I now find myself with a 7 strike, 4 expiration option position that has a bullish bent. The question is now, can bullies last?
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