Why Apple Sucks as an Investment, but Amazon Doesn't

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Yes. That's a provocative headline. Designed to make you click. Pretty amazing, isn't it, that we do that in this business. We actually want to catch your attention at the front door, so you'll walk in, spend some time, use the back door and do it all over again sometime soon.

Sort of like the television or radio programs that "tease" really interesting things right before a commercial break. Or the music act that saves their best songs for the encore.

Truth be told, most people who complain about outrageous headlines don't actually have a problem with the outrageous headline. They just use the spectacle of the headline to project annoyance with an argument their psychological filters keep them from considering. So, ironically, they are are much more nefarious and suspect in their use of the headline than we are.

Because, really, if this headline read Why Amazon Sucks As An Investment, But Apple Doesn't, Apple ( AAPL) bulls would fill the comments' section with fist pumps and chest bumps. The Macalope would call me a genius over at MacWorld. And nobody would defend Amazon.com ( AMZN) because that's totally uncool.

But I'm your friendly hipster journalist, defending Amazon before it was even cool to do so.

With the headline as is -- Why Apple Sucks As An Investment, But Amazon Doesn't -- this article, in the eyes of the most vocal commenters, Apple supporters and Amazon haters becomes everything that is wrong with journalism in the year 2013. Funny, how that works, eh?

I tend not to do charts. Why? Because I don't learn that way. I prefer words and thoughts. However, this one bears reprinting. It compares AAPL vs. AMZN performance-wise over the last year.

AAPL Chart AAPL data by YCharts

After every seemingly so-so Amazon earnings report, AMZN haters claim this is it. The arrival of doom. The end of a multibillion-dollar online retail pioneer that created, dictates and owns the space. I respond the same way each time. The stock will drop, pop and regain relatively solid ground. We're seeing that this week as AMZN gets set to flirt with 52-week highs . . . again.

Meantime, after truly lackluster performances from Apple, there's constant talk about (false) breakouts in the stock.

Face it. It's dead money.

Yet the same group of Amazon haters would rather bitch about headlines and how unfair the AAPL-AMZN reality is. They repeat the same lines that have been proven objectively untrue over the last 13 years or so.

While it's always more complicated than a couple of points, two primary factors explain why AMZN not only rebounds, but strengthens, as AAPL remains a junkyard full of false starts (a TheStreet coffee mug to the person who knows where I stole that from -- and don't use Google!).

Leadership and Strategic-Competitive Position

We know who calls the shots at Amazon. We know that he is clear-headed, confident and proven. He tells us how it is and we believe him. And that makes sense; Jeff Bezos has only been proven right for the last decade-plus.

We have no idea what the hell is going on at Apple.

Tim Cook refuses to address what in the world is happening with Apple TV. But, hey, everybody loves this new guy we never heard of before who strung together a few sentences (and, like every other Apple executive, a whole bunch of adjectives love The Verge!) , without stuttering at WWDC.

Strategically and competitively, there's no question who not only leads today, but will lead tomorrow in Amazon's space. They're the undisputed e-commerce leader. It's almost as if everybody is coming for them and nobody is coming for them at the same time. It feels that way because there isn't another entity even close to creating the online retail ecosystem Jeff Bezos has established and continues to evolve at Amazon.

Plus, we know what Amazon is. An online retail company. We know why they do everything else they do. It's clear, plainly spelled out, completely obvious and damn effective.

Apple might dominate today, but, without anything resembling the next big thing on the horizon -- as in, a repeat of iPod, iPhone or iPad -- we have no visibility into the more meaningful question: Will Apple still dominate tomorrow?

We don't even know what Apple is.

A hardware company? Well, of course they are. I know this. But Tim Cook likes to play the smartest guy in the room with this babble about Apple being a software company. There's no focus. And that's because there cannot be focus without confident and competent leadership. Investors prefer focus, not uncertainty.

In every way, right now and going forward, Amazon is a better investment and a better company than Apple. But, go ahead, make the same arguments over again. Nobody will notice that they're wrong. They'll be too busy telling Jim Cramer to fire me because of this article's headline.

-- 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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