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Saving Apple From a Tragic Fall

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I must issue a half-apology to Betty Liu. In February, I ripped the Bloomberg anchor pretty hard for asking Is there anything that can save Apple (AAPL - Get Report)?

You can see video of the moment that set me off at the link.

It's a half-apology because I have transitioned into partial agreement with Liu. Apple absolutely needs something to save it. In this article, I will reference an article I think you should read. If Tim Cook proceeds as the author thinks he will, I would put my money behind Apple maintaining its greatness. If not, mediocrity reigns.

But first ... I still disagree with the context, or lack thereof, Liu provided alongside her statement.

It's absurd to discuss marketshare. Relatedly, you cannot make Google (GOOG - Get Report) Android to Apple iOS comparisons without qualifying them. Apple remains present-day dominant and, in February, Tim Cook was saying many of the right things.

I've never been one of those guys who routinely calls Google or Samsung better than Apple. It doesn't matter much to me if Apple sells 30 million or 31 million iPhones in a quarter. I own and love the company's products. And, as the market stands today -- in the here and now -- there's nobody better than Apple. The company, frozen in time, remains great.

I'm all about the long term. And I am of the belief that Tim Cook cannot keep Apple great for the duration. While the company might never flat out suck, it could very well become mediocre, which would go down as a tragic fall.

Unless ... of course ... Christopher Mims at Quartz put the pieces of the puzzle together accurately in Here's all the evidence that Apple is making an actual TV -- and the remote will likely be your hand.

A television/set-top box in one controlled by motion detection technology.

I dig.

If that's what Apple ends up doing -- and it takes the focus off of content -- I will support the decision succeed or fail. That said, I'm quite sure if Apple does a television set it will disrupt several categories just like it did with iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Google, Intel (INTC - Get Report) and others bark up the wrong tree. A content-based Internet TV offering has no place in the market, assuming it's coming from a tech company, not an incumbent.

A point I made in If Netflix Mattered, Hulu Would Put It Out of Business bears repeating:
At this point, the old guard media has no reason to blow up its cush model of collecting fees from cable and satellite companies for subscribers. They control the pace of the metamorphosis to a world where we consume all of our content via an Internet connection and without the need for a traditional subscription. Because of big media's foothold on the most prime programming (live events, first-run TV, appointment viewing, etc.), it has no reason or incentive to blow up its own model before it feels the need. A gradual transition works much better. And it's exactly what we'll see.

I think (and I hope) Apple understands that big media doesn't need to give it access to prime content (and break up its long-standing and lucrative model) to take advantage of its technological prowess. If Apple does a television set that blows up the now commoditized hardware category, it makes the cable/satellite experience better just as it did music, video and communication platforms with iPod, iPad and iPhone. From there, the big media conglomerates will oversee the transition to total IP delivery on their own time under their own terms using their own platforms.

I can't see it happening any other way -- at least not on a mass scale. The longer Apple banged its head against wall in negotiations-to-nowhere with content companies, the more I think it realized this reality and shifted focus to something that looks more like what the Quartz article explains and less like a traditional cable offering delivered via the Internet.

Think of it as a refreshed and slightly-upgraded (content-wise) Apple TV set top box morphed with a television consumers will pay a premium price for. We have seen the story go down this way with Apple several times before.

-- 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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