NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Apple (AAPL) introduces the iPad. Suddenly the world is full of tablets. Apple gets interested in TV. Suddenly there's Chromecast, Fire TV and Android TV. Apple looks to be getting into smartwatches and health monitoring. Microsoft (MSFT) is suddenly interested. How does one evaluate the prospects of all the imitators?
When thinking about the prospects of any given company, one has to be aware of why a given product becomes so popular. How a company designs and shepherds a product to market is important, and a rash desire to cash in on a competitor's product popularity, without sufficient technical maturity, can be fatal.
Another consideration for any company facing popular new products from a competitor like Apple is the fear of being left behind. For example, Microsoft spotted Apple a 30 month head start with the iPad and paid a heavy price in unsold Surface write-offs and a post-PC era stagnation of its stock. In fact, Microsoft may never be able to catch up. Samsung (SSNLF), in contrast, got on the tablet bandwagon almost immediately and has been rewarded with much better market share.
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