Shrewd Apple Means Never Having to Say Sorry

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I am realizing every day that technology giant Apple ( AAPL) is becoming more and more like that next-door neighbor you just can't keep up with no matter how much you try, and he knows it. What makes it even worse is that he knows that you can't stand him for it and he loves it!

In an article on Tuesday by TheStreet author Rocco Pendola, he reminded investors of just how tactically savvy Apple can be sometimes. Although I say "savvy" with a great deal of admiration, the more appropriate description, however, is "shrewd" -- and I say this with a great deal of respect. In the article, Pendola pointed out succinctly the key differences between Apple and its chief rival in Google ( GOOG) with the following statement:

If Google wasn't busy building cars that drive themselves and tinkering with other projects that do not generate revenue or enhance its competitive position, it might have used its acquisition of Zagat to put an end to the experiments known as Yelp (YELP) and Open Table (OPEN).

Apple is so nimble that it's able to coolly and calmly pick and choose the things it will keep in-house and what it will outsource to mere mortals. At the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, Apple, for all intents and purposes, threw aircraft flotation devices out to both Yelp and Open Table by integrating them into iOS 6. It also raised the stakes, in a good way, by finally integrating Facebook (FB) and saying such nice things about Twitter.

Although I have a slightly different take from Pendola regarding Google's business acumen, his points were well taken -- which is essentially, as we applaud Apple for its brilliance in creativity and having become an endless well of exceptional growth, Wall Street often overlooks and underestimates the company for having mastered the art of war -- or in this case the art of competition to the extent that not only has it killed off Research in Motion ( RIMM), but it continues to make even market leaders such as Microsoft ( MSFT), Amazon ( AMZN) and Google feel grossly inadequate.

The company has become not only the anchor of the stock market, but the beacon of innovation for the world. That it has surpassed  Exxon Mobil ( XOM) as the world's largest company -- to the extent that it is now larger than Microsoft, Cisco ( CSCO) and Intel ( INTC) combined.

As great of an accomplishment this is, many fail to appreciate that Apple did not acquire its current status solely from its "iProducts." More than anything, what has made the company the powerhouse that it has become is something that it has begun to do better than anyone else -- run a clever and sometimes outright brutal business operation.

Also Monday, it was revealed the company plans to nix the popular Google maps app in place of its own in-house mapping software currently in development for its IOS6 -- something that, in my opinion, has likely sealed the fate of mobile GPS leaders in TomTom, Garmin ( GRMN) as well as satellite radio giant Sirius XM ( SIRI). I say this because in addition, it was announced that Apple is working with auto makers such as BMW, Land Rover as well as General Motors ( GM) to add buttons on steering wheels that will allow drivers to enable its voice command tool Siri from a docked iPhone - all without lighting up the phone's display.

Bottom Line

So it seems that as soon as Wall Street thinks that it has Apple figured out, like a great magician the company quickly shifts into a different direction and immediately convinces that it is doing something else. For that matter, the current gap that exists in its lead in whatever market it enters often gets significant enough where its competition is forced to always play catch-up.

In the process companies such as RIM, Microsoft, Amazon and, as in Pendola's example, Google, continue to squander operational resources only to produce (at best) an equivalent product, or something close enough that is considered "respectable." But for Apple when has "respectable" ever been enough?

Instead, Apple is forcing its competitors to play "Simon says" while its lead widens. As they try to play catch-up, Apple also understands they will never have the time to devote attention towards looking beyond what Apple is doing in order to make the sort of leap necessary to topple its empire.

If that is not an example of being shrewd, I don't know what is.
At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL and held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.