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Apple's Downfall Coming

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I wrote something as a bit of an aside in a recent TheStreet article about Amazon.com (AMZN) and Pandora (P):

He's seems like a nice guy so I hate to say it, but Apple's downfall will come courtesy of Tim Cook. With Jobs gone, Cook has already made a mockery of his legacy. First, a dividend and a buyback. And now rumors of something Jobs detested -- a mini iPad.
Next, Cook will travel off to China and smile for the cameras like a politician. Wait. He already did that. In many ways, he is the anti-Steve Jobs. And, while it might look like that's good for business, it's not. It's very bad for business.

Before I expand on this, I need to point out that when Steve Jobs returned to the company, Apple (AAPL) 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.

Without doubt, gaggles of cynics will label me master of the obvious. That's fine, but when you consider the price targets analysts throw out and, even more so, relatively absurd claims that AAPL could reach $1,000 or -- deep breath -- Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) status, my contention does not seem so elementary.

AAPL bulls have made a profound error: After rightly heaping praise on Steve Jobs for Apple's enormous success, many of them now discount his contribution, claiming that mere mortals can run the show without missing a beat. That's wishful thinking at best, a good way to crush your retirement fund at worst.

The Genius Bar

The likes of Steve Jobs are not a dime a dozen. All it takes is a mere skim of two excellent books: Adam Lashinsky's Inside Apple and Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography to figure that out.

As each piece of writing gets spray-painted on the wall, it becomes all the more clear that Tim Cook will run this company, maybe not into the ground, but into the sort of average status that will render Apple no longer distinct from pack.

I fully recognize how unfair this is to Cook. Nobody can replace Steve Jobs, save other visionaries such as Jeff Bezos. Apple bulls mention non-MBAs and innovative, creative types like Apple VPs Scott Forstall and Jon Ive. But yet again, these bulls dilute Jobs's impact on the company they love and claim to know.

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