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Tim Cook Killed Apple One More Time This Week

All of these additional "yeses" we have seen come from Apple since Jobs became persona non grata (and, sadly, that's the treatment he appears to receive now, even if the offenders do not realize it)... they're killing the company. And the yeses have morphed from a never-ending, but amazingly effective series of dictatorial Jobs' noes, in part, because these guys appear to be rebelling like the tortured singer-songwriter using lyrics as therapy for years of mental and physical abuse at the hands of a drunken stepfather.

Free from the egotistical structures and strictures Jobs stubbornly held in place, these guys have the freedom to let the B-player in them show. There's no longer any supervision. Everybody's free to make the dumb decisions Jobs used to call dumb straight to their faces.

This is nothing new. It didn't start in the time leading up to opening day of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference. I have been writing about it since Jobs' death. Predicting the fall from greatness to something merely good. But, I have hardly been alone. Folks who have earned and deserve more respect than I do have been saying it -- even if not quite as directly -- for some time.

Consider this excerpt from a Seeking Alpha article I published on March 20, 2012. My words comprise the first paragraph. The next three come from Fortune's Adam Lashinsky:

To argue that Tim Cook "put his stamp" on Apple by going with the dividend and buy back is patently absurd. This is hardly original. Cook put everybody's mark but his own on the company with this move. It's even more frightening to think that Cook might actually agree with the crowd that he followed. Not surprisingly, Lashinky provides the one analysis that actually understands this line of thinking:
... no matter how many times I asked smart money types and careful Apple watchers what they thought Apple would do, nobody seemed to have any creative ideas ...
So instead, Apple announced the most usual of financial behaviors Monday morning, before the sun had come up in California ... Apple "listened" to what shareholders wanted, (CFO Peter) Oppenheimer said ...
Apple under Steve Jobs was so good at so many things. Listening wasn't one of them, and Jobs wore that trait as a badge of honor. He knew what was best -- even if he didn't -- and that's the way it was. A normal company listens, of course. March 19, 2012, marks the day we saw a tiny example of an Apple that is normal.

Now, you might think I'm a hack. A pseudo-journalist out for nothing but vitriol and the attendant page views. That's fine. I'm a big boy. I know who I am and where I stand. My personal feelings of self-worth and accomplishment aside, you absolutely cannot make that assessment with respect to a guy like Lashinsky.

Apple has been making "the most usual" decisions ever since Jobs left the picture. It stopped being Apple. It ceased to be great. It remains dominant only by default.

One event after another -- from the dividend/buyback decision to the most recent underwhelmer," iTunes Radio -- provides writing on the wall, yet so many refuse to listen. They can't stand to see the dream die. But, rebuking Jobs is no way to keep it alive. It's antithetical.

For the record and FWIW, AAPL stock is off 27% since I wrote that March 2012 article.

Maybe it had to be this way. No question about it. Maybe human psychology and the actions of men would not allow Apple to respect Steve Jobs's legacy and carefully adhere to a if it ain't broke, don't fix it mentality. I get that. However, reality doesn't erase tragedy.

Apple died long before WWDC. It died with Steve Jobs.

That embarrassing dog and pony show from Monday -- something Jobs never would have signed off on (and he choreographed these events word for word) -- will ultimately stack with the other signposts of history. Critics will point to it when they tell the story of Apple's fall from greatness to just something good -- something normal -- acting as if they saw it coming all along.

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.
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