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Microsoft, Apple and Nokia Now All Have the Same Problem

Stocks in this article: AAPL NOK MSFT

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As Apple (AAPL) once again soars into the stratosphere, I am taking lots of flack for my perceived bearishness. Even my friend and fellow TheStreet contributor Richard Saintvilus threw some good-natured ribbing my way Wednesday morning when he alerted me to his article, Apple: I Would Never Say 'I Told You So', beaming on TheStreet's homepage.

In reality, while cautious, I have never been near-term bearish on Apple. Consider what I wrote last week on TheStreet:

I need to point out that when Steve Jobs returned to the company, Apple did not become a success overnight. It took several years and a whole lot of second-guessing from bears and even the company's few bulls.
For most intents and purposes, the rough road ended when Jobs made Apple's product lineup leaner and meaner and introduced the first iPod. Just like the path to success, the road to failure or, at the very least, mediocrity, will not present as a swift and straight path.

While I argue that the loss of Steve Jobs will hurt Apple down the line, I have never questioned its near-term dominance. In fact, I have a deep admiration for the company, largely because of Jobs' impact.

I expect weakness here and there -- that's normal. Even though it did not come this quarter, it will come at some point just as it has in the past. That said, any type of swift downfall is a long ways off. Relatively seismic, high-level cultural shifts do not occur overnight.

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Several reasons exist for Apple's dominance. The top two:

  • Lack of competition
  • Seamless design, engineering and ecosystem
  • Sadly, the tech space lacks innovators. Of course, innovation was always the hallmark of software and hardware companies and such, but, long ago, they passed the torch to new social media companies ranging from Pandora (P) to Facebook. As Steve Jobs chided shortly before his death, Apple's so-called competitors are little more than copycats.

    Each smartphone and tablet that followed iPhone and iPad represented little more than a knock-off of the original. Jobs and Apple took things like Walkmans and mobile phones and made them better; everybody else merely reacted and produced cheap imitations. The only company that deserves a pass for putting out an inferior product is (AMZN).

    Jeff Bezos never wanted, nor does he want, a battle with Apple. He's too smart for that. He released Kindle Fire as a means to serve an end. In many ways, it's similar to the approach Apple takes. Bezos is creating an ecosystem at Amazon, just as Jobs did at Apple with seamless links between gadgets, content and platforms.

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