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NEW YORK (
Apple's(AAPL - Get Report) winning streak has been good for its investors and good for Apple, but seldom has a tech success shared so little wealth with the rest of the sector.
Call it hardball or capitalism in its purest form, but Apple's autocratic approach to business and the current sway its products have in the market have been nothing but punishment for other players.
Sure, to the winner go the spoils and all that -- Apple shares are up ten-fold in the past 10 years. But unlike past stock rockets riding surging tech trends, Apple's rise has not been particularly uplifting for investors outside Apple.
In fact, Apple is killing tech as we know it. Some examples:
Adobe(ADBE), whose Flash Jobs dubbed as slow and buggy. Ever seen a vicious virtual public stoning? Look here.
Nokia(NOK) We hardly knew ya. Apple's ascent in smartphones leaves you stranded on Planet Dumbphone.
RIM(RIMM) Out of touch in touchscreens. Quitting BlackBerry used to take a 12-step program.
Intel(INTC) Not inside and not along for the ride in iPhone or iPads
The trick behind Apple's solo success is that the company strives to pull all its own strings. Few companies are permitted behind the fortress walls. The recent vow to exclude
Google's(GOOG - Get Report)AdMob ads from its devices is just the most recent example of
Apple's exclusionary effort to blaze its own path.
Take the iPod. It didn't make MP3 players that loaded songs via USB from any computer like all the other devices. Instead, the proprietary iPod became a key special agent for iTunes, the music and media service Apple used to corner the music industry.
"Hardball has worked like a charm so far," said MKM Partners analyst Tero Kuittinen. "They clubbed the music industry like a baby seal. Now they're trying to do the same with television, movies, book publishing, Adobe and advertising."
What makes this argument difficult is that Apple is so good at what it does. People willingly pay extra for Apple gear. Maybe it's the coolness, maybe it's a cult, or maybe it's the so-called halo effect, but Apple has demonstrated a deft hand at making products that people enjoy.
The new iPhone, for example, doesn't have the best parts available. In fact it doesn't measure up to the Google Android-powered HTC
Verizon(VZ) Incredible and the
Sprint(S) EVO phones, which are superior machines.
But Apple, and more specifically Steve Jobs, famously hone the design process by dictating hardware specifications and blending them with software for a more cohesive product.