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Apple Will Become "Uncool" in 2012, Predicts Analyst

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UNIFORMLY UNHIP
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As anyone who wore Z Cavaricci and shaved lines into his hair can tell you, coolness is highly subjective. Especially in business.

While some might regard Amazon (AMZN), Pandora (P), and Urban Outfitters (URBN) as cool brands -- as Drea Knufken has in a recent Minyanville article -- others might scoff and refer to the companies as "too mainstream" or "sell outs."

But one company that many consider as having the coolness factor locked down is Apple (AAPL). Whether its a Wild Flag concertgoer from Bay Ridge or a stay-at-home mother of four in Boise, many would argue that Apple's fleet of gadgets certainly has an edge on Android (GOOG), BlackBerry (RIMM), and Windows Phone (MSFT) devices in terms of hipness.

However, with iPhones losing ground to Android and iPads seeing more competition from also-ran tablets, will Apple maintain its hip factor forever? Brian Deagon at Investor's Business Daily doesn't think so. In fact, Deagon sees Apple losing its cool factor as soon as this year.

"With the iPod, iPhone and iPad, Apple redefined markets and defined cool," Deagon writes. "But what's left? The iPhone is boxy, flat and feeling stale. The Samsung Galaxy smartphone seems cooler. With Google's Android platform now the fastest-growing mobile OS, Apple's software advantage will diminish. Smartphones and tablets will become commodity items and Apple will be eaten by the collective Android gang."

Deagon adds, "Apple's next big hope is the TV market, a tough nut to crack and where Samsung is king."

Although Samsung's Galaxy line has its devotees -- especially with the well-received Galaxy Nexus, Android's latest flagship device -- it'd be a bit of a leap to say most would deem the company "cooler" than Apple. Then again, Apple's draconian walled garden and denial to free tethering are decidedly "uncool" in the eyes of free-wheeling folks who wish to do whatever they please with their device out of the box. While Android isn't as open as it would have you believe, it does permit more freedom than its iOS competitor.

And with its ease and ubiquity, iPhones are now in the hands of parents and grandparents. Teens choosing the very same product or service as their older relatives is usually unheard of. How long can Apple be that rare exception?

On the other hand, when execs from HTC and Nokia (NOK) denied Apple's cool factor, they were practically laughed out of the room.

Of Deagon's ten predictions for 2012 -- which include Steve Ballmer's exit from Microsoft, BlackBerry's demise, and the rise of Ultrabooks (INTC) -- Apple's loss of cool is definitely his most controversial.

(See also: The iPhone Ain't Cool, Says HTC Exec and Apple's Headed for a Fall, Says Former Exec)
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POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.

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