Still, Apple has enough cash to buy Amazon.com (AMZN) outright. Its current dividend comes to over $10 per share, per year. How bad can things be?
On the surface, Microsoft's problems look more serious. Its consumer brand is weak. This is hurting its software developers and hardware makers. Even Intel (INTC - Get Report) is down 15% in value over the last five years because of its close Microsoft ties, while rival ARM Holdings (ARMH), whose designs are used by Apple and other device makers, has doubled.
Still, Microsoft has areas of strength. Its Windows Server is
Microsoft has also built strong brands in XBox and Skype, which are being fully integrated in Windows 8, and the Bing search engine (which Yahoo! (YHOO) uses) will be embedded in both the operating system and Internet Explorer 10, which remains a contender in the browser wars.Microsoft, in short, is a more diverse company than Apple, with a lot more interesting things going on for an ambitious young executive, as opposed to the top-down nature of Apple, where fewer people give orders and more people just take them. Over the longer run, I think Microsoft grows faster from here than Apple because there are more directions in which it can grow. I think it finds a new generation of leadership and a year from now will be seen to be on the right path. There's a reason why Microsoft still trades at an earnings multiple of 15.24 while Apple is at 13.68 as trading opens. Investment, as a long game, favors the diversified. At the time of publication, the author had positions in INTC, ARMH, MSFT and AAPL. Follow @DanaBlankenhorn This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.