NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- With the option of replacing Tim Cook with an entrepreneurial and innovative CEO like Jack Dorsey off the table, here are five things, in no particular order, Apple (AAPL - Get Report) can and should do to ensure it remains the greatest company in the world.
1. As I discussed earlier this year, Apple should protect its image and pull its products from soulless third-party retailers such as Walmart (WMT - Get Report), Best Buy (BBY - Get Report) and Target (TGT - Get Report).
Buying Apple products should be an experience, similar to the one Apple's own retail stores provide. Brands that do little more than compete on price shouldn't be hawking iPads and iPhones down the aisle from bars of soap and boxes of cereal. It's bad enough that Apple lets these stores carry its products, it's even worse when it gives them permission to offer discounts.
Cook should view it as an embarrassment that, out of the gate, Walmart can discount iPhone 5s by 10 bucks. And he should put a stop to it.2. Create new retail partnerships with higher-end names, but not electronics chains. Get the most high-end Apple devices in places such as Restoration Hardware (RH - Get Report), Michael Kors (KORS - Get Report) and Whole Foods Market (WFM - Get Report). Nothing labeled "Apple" belongs anywhere within in spitting distance of inferior smartphones and tablets or Sharp television sets and such. It's all so hokey. It dilutes the image Apple should be obsessive over controlling and maintaining. 3. Never compromise on price. While it's great to see Tim Cook decide against going "cheap" with iPhone 5c -- in the spirit of iPad mini pricing -- trade-in programs and other gimmicks have no place at Apple. And find a way to sue people who go out and do them on their own. Vigorously defend your high-end image. Brands such as Porsche don't have to defend their images because, unlike Apple, they never compromised them in the first place. If anybody wants cheap they can buy an iPod Shuffle or iPhone 4S. 4. Give iWork away for free. To everybody. This seems to contradict the focus on preserving the high-end image, but it's not. Apple is not a leader in productivity software, but it could be. Microsoft's (MSFT - Get Report) foothold with Office is too strong and Google's (GOOG) push with its cloud-based offerings is too aggressive. Apple needs to come harder at Microsoft than it did Tuesday. Before Apple makes iWork free across all iOS devices -- old and new -- it needs to improve the software. From there, it can make a proper consumer and enterprise push. If you think this is pie-in-the-sky thinking, consider what Apple did to Blackberry (BBRY - Get Report). People who defended the artist formerly known as RIM to the death claimed Blackberry would never lose with businesses because of security. They said the IT guys would never let iOS in. My response was simple: IT guys are losers. The CEO and other executives give them orders. It's their job to implement management's wishes. End of story. That's what happened as the "bring your own device" movement took hold and Apple wiped out Blackberry. Just read the comments from the story where I claimed Apple could kill Office. They're loaded with people impressing themselves and their closest friends with their knowledge of IT. And they're making the same type of proclamations Blackberry people made as Apple was eating its lunch. Lofty technical statements that mean absolutely zilch in the real world. Microsoft will lose with businesses. Windows and Office will die. The only question is how will Google and Apple split the market. Or will Apple take any of it at all? If I'm Tim Cook I make it my mission in life to destroy Microsoft much in the same way Steve Jobs destroyed Research in Motion.
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