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Lessons for Apple in Sony's Fall

Its stock price problems would vanish if investors saw another iPad-like hit on the horizon. What disturbs us most is the idea the company is repeating itself, delivering new versions of what it already has rather than something truly new.

That's what happened to Sony. Its biggest hit was the Trinitron TV, and it has kept selling TVs to this day, even though flat screens are now commodities that don't wear out as tubes did. The Trinitron was Sony's Macintosh, as the Walkman was its iPod, and its failure to move on, to reinvent, to think differently, especially after Morita-san suffered a stroke in 1993 and retired in 1994, was its undoing.

Apple shareholders are right to be concerned. Cash, in the form of dividends or preferred stock, won't feed our hunger. Neither will acquisitions.

We need something new, something that convinces us CEO Tim Cook has a little of that Jobs magic in him, the magic Morita's successors, starting with Norio Ohga, failed to deliver to Sony.

We're right to need that. Because we saw what failure to innovate did to Sony. Until we're convinced Tim Cook can think different, Apple stock will languish -- no matter how financial engineers try to prop it up.

At the time of publication the author had a position in AAPL.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
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