5. RIM's Fine Line
With all deference to Spinal Tap vocalist David St. Hubbins, the line between "stupid and clever" is not "fine" at all. In fact, it's pretty fat. And based on how the folks at Apple (AAPL) and Research In Motion (RIMM) spent the past week, you can see how fat it is.
Let's start with the clever side, shall we?
Speaking of lines, hundreds of people queued up outside Apple stores worldwide last Friday to get their geeky little hands on the new iPhone 4S, one of the last products developed under the late, great Steve Jobs. At the New York store on Fifth Avenue with its super chic glass entrance, Apple enthusiasts stretched half way down the block, leaving some tourists wondering if the Wall Street protestors had taken a wrong turn and found themselves on Manhattan's opulent Upper East Side.Silly tourists! That field trip from Zucotti Park to John Paulson's mansion took place last Tuesday. Don't worry, maybe you can catch them the next time the revolution takes the number 4 train uptown. Anyway, the cheering masses certainly offered Apple's brass a reason to revel after what had been a trying time at the company. Most Apple watchers felt deflated when new CEO Tim Cook introduced an upgraded iPhone 4 instead of a brand-spanking new iPhone 5 earlier this month. And moods darkened still at the passing of Jobs, the company's guiding light, shortly thereafter. So the crowds that greeted the new gadget must have heartened Apple execs, almost as much as the reported 1 million in opening day sales. The iPhone 4, for those keeping track, sold 600,000 units in its first 24 hours. It also pushed the stock more than 3% higher Monday, giving it a market cap of $390 billion and making it the most valuable company in the world. Of course, those gains were erased merely two trading days later when Apple missed analyst estimates by 23 cents, although Wall Street's sell-siders have deemed the whiff more a one-time event than the beginning of something broader. And by something broader we mean Google (GOOG) and its Android-based products seriously denting Apple's dominance, as opposed to a surge from RIM, which further entrenched itself at the other end of the clever/stupid spectrum after what was clearly a Hebdomas Horribilis for the company. (For those not brushed up on their Latin, that's 1/52 of an Annus Horribilis.) The company's signature BlackBerry product enraged users as a result of a global outage that lasted most of last week, even as RIM's counterparts at Apple were enjoying a warm customer reception to their new smartphone. To compensate angry consumers, the firm offered not money but free apps this past Monday "as an expression of appreciation for their patience during the recent service disruptions." "We have apologized to our customers and we will work tirelessly to restore their confidence," said co-CEO Michael Lazaridis in a statement. If he really wants to catch Apple, then RIM better turn it up to 11, to use Spinal Tap-speak once again. Otherwise, RIM stock, already down 60% this year, could see yet another really, really big bottom.
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