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What the Hell Is Happening at Apple?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Don't worry. I'm not pulling a Business Insider hack job with a wildly provocative title only to leave you with a two-sentence cut-and-paste of somebody else's work and a promise to "update" it "soon."

To ask What the Hell Is Happening at Apple? puts it mildly.

You have read me right over the past several days. Tim Cook's power play at Apple ( AAPL - Get Report ) does make me feel a bit better about him as CEO, but it doesn't erase long-term doubts.

You can call that riding both sides of the fence; I call it understanding and respecting the complexity of the situation.

Everybody loves an easy answer. That's probably why so many people ate up The Wall Street Journal report that Cook fired Scott Forstall because he refused to sign Cook's embarrassing Google ( GOOG ) Maps apology letter.

That's crap.

If anything, that might have been the straw that broke the camel's back, but it's a simple and probably wholly inaccurate way to frame a complicated, yet simultaneously straightforward situation.

Lots of people didn't like Forstall. At some level, Cook probably felt threatened by him. MappleGate gave Cook more than he needed to make the move.

What happened, however, raises as many questions as it does accolades for Cook.

Ultimately, much of what led to Forstall's demise falls on Cook in one way or another. In some fashion, he was asleep at the wheel, plus he has to protect his own job. That's a concern, along with, in no particular order:
  • The dividend/buyback decision.
  • Weaker than weak Genius ads pulled shortly after airing.
  • The errant decision by John Browett (also fired) to reshuffle retail staff hours and almost immediate reversal and apology.
  • Though I disagree with it because of the premium price point, criticism over doing an iPad mini warrants attention.
  • What amounts to an iTV stalemate. It looks as if Cook has no idea how to move with forward with Apple TV.

I'm probably forgetting something, but you catch my drift.

Under Steve Jobs, Apple was a well-oiled machine. Certainly, all heck might have been breaking loose from time to time, behind the scenes, but you rarely got that sense with Jobs at CEO.

Maybe that was just the power of his reality distortion field, but that's neither here nor there. It worked.

Apple was a steel trap that hummed along without a hitch. That's obviously no longer the case. This makes the company look less like Apple and more like its inferior competition.
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