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TheStreet Open House

In Apple Debate, You're Either With Us or Against Us

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Last week, Apple (AAPL) co-founder Steve Wozniak criticized the company for doing what it has always done:

Part of me wishes that Apple had not been so kind of arrogant and feeling we're the only one with the right clue . . . I wish they had made a small and a large version of the iPhone; that would have been great for me . . . Apple is now trying to run with that defense, saying "We are right," and really there's a mix of people. Not all people want the same thing and a lot of people really like the big screens.

In Apple's Cycle of Abuse, TheStreet's Doug Kass segues from Wozniak's points to argue that if Apple can no longer produce revolutionary, but just evolutionary products, it "will have gone from a disruptive innovator and category creator . . . to a company competing on the basis of run-of-the-mill hardware features."

I agree from a broad innovation standpoint, but not from an iPhone 5-specific perspective.

And let's face it, for all of the crap he has taken from irrational AAPL cheerleaders and rational AAPL bulls alike, Kass nailed the stock in an Oct. 3 column for TheStreet's Real Money Pro.

While that article triggered considerable backlash, Kass was right. When he penned the piece AAPL traded for roughly $665. If you subscribe to Real Money Pro and Kass's bearish sentiment influenced you, you could have followed AAPL all the way down to its recent intraday low of $623.55.

Anyhow, to preview a central thesis of this article -- it's perfectly reasonable to agree with one portion of a person's bear case, but take exception with another.

For example, Kass laments alleged mistreatment of the Chinese factory workers who assemble Apple products by the company's suppliers. Then he throws out a red herring of sorts, asking readers to consider how they would react if "a Walmart (WMT) supplier was accused of" similar offenses.

Kass goes on to assume:

Many Wal-Mart customers would protest Wal-Mart for use of these suppliers, refuse to buy the products or even shop at Wal-Mart. And all sorts of scathing editorials would follow, the combination of which would force Wal-Mart to change its practices. Some Apple customers who would likely take these actions against Wal-Mart hypocritically line up days in advance to buy the latest Apple products.

That's quite an assumption.

Plus, we're all hypocrites. Apple. Walmart. Apple's customers. Walmart's customers. And any combination of the four.

Each of us, individual or entity, draws a line -- one we move at our own discretion -- that separates what we're willing to do from what we're unwilling to do. In most areas of life, especially purchase decisions, we're all walking contradictions and inconsistencies.

And, while Walmart might be a better international citizen than it used to be, it executes a business model that relies on cheap Chinese imports.

Plus, you could argue that by visiting China and speaking out on labor conditions, Tim Cook empowered Chinese workers, who have recently voiced displeasure with their situations.

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