Why Jeff Bezos Will Always Be a Winner and Tim Cook Will Always Be a Loser

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Every once in a while you just have to scoreboard:

April 24, 2013 Amazon's About to Pass Apple
Sept. 10, 2012 Amazon Will Beat Apple to $1000

Eleven months ago it was difficult for people to swallow. Because nine months into 2012, Apple ( AAPL) was up 61.6 percent for the year versus Amazon.com's ( AMZN) relatively measly 43.6% gain.

I guess it made sense that readers weren't buying AAPL negativity/AMZN positivity back then given AAPL's still-strong performance. That said, you were just smoking the peace pipe if you discounted anti-AAPL/pro-AMZN arguments in late April 2013. At the time, AMZN had popped 4.5% year-to-date vs. AAPL's 26.1% dive. And if you remain a denier today, with AMZN up 13.1% and AAPL down 1.9 over the last three months, you're acting more like a sports fan than an investor or serious observer of America's most prolific technology/retail companies.

For the record, over the last year, AMZN stock has returned 36.4% vs. a decline of 29.7% for AAPL. Interestingly, AAPL's freefall began shortly after my much-maligned Sept. 10, 2012 piece.

AMZN bears are a tortured bunch. The stock hit a 52-week high of $300.69 Thursday, ending the session at an all-time closing high of $299.66. But at least they're not losing money. This bunch is all talk, no action. They don't have the balls to get short. The numbers from December back this up. The data that reflects just how popular actual bets against AMZN are remains about the same today.

The most shocking thing about all of this -- the reason why AMZN defies gravity and AAPL can't gain any ground is as straightforward a proposition as there is. I know it sounds harsh (if it makes you feel any better, this is a Seinfeld-inspired line), but it's true: Jeff Bezos Will Always Be a Winner and Tim Cook Will Always Be a Loser.

Now, of course, in a broader sense, Tim Cook is hardly a loser. I know this. But within the relatively narrow context of an Amazon vs. Apple debate, he's a distant second to Jeff Bezos. As Eddie Vedder once said about Bruce Springsteen: "He's the Boss and I'm the employee."

As stocks, AMZN persists and AAPL barely subsists because, as I've been saying for the better part of 36 months, investors have confidence in Jeff Bezos, but they do not have confidence in Tim Cook. To be fair, they probably wouldn't have confidence in most Apple leaders post-Steve Jobs. And, when I say "investors," I mean the big money; it remains in AMZN, whereas a considerable chunk has fled AAPL leaving emotional retail cats holding the bag. When AMZN pulls back, it always recovers. It might be Wall Street's most resilient stock.

As companies, Amazon has incredible focus (thanks to Bezos). Apple, no matter how much it attempts to front with sappy commercials (to bide time) and whiny proclamations about Phil Schiller's ass, lacks a clear view of where it's headed. The what, why and how of Apple's road to nowhere even treads in murky water.

There's no mystery at Amazon. Just about everything it does serves one primary goal -- to be the undisputed e-commerce leader. That's it. Jeff Bezos tells you outright -- we're not a hardware company or a software company. Anything we do in those realms is a means to our ultimate, clearly-stated end. Bezos has been shooting straight with anybody who bothers to ask about Amazon's strategy since 1999. It's no wonder people with lots of cash believe in the guy.

Meantime at Apple, Tim Cook strings himself and shareholders along with this fantasy that his company is a software company. Instead of furthering Steve Jobs's legacy he urinates all over it, opting to play silly software and service games rather than build beautiful pieces of hardware.

Apple TV provides a prime example. Cook has no idea how to proceed here. So now, according to a report, he's fixing to ensure 2013 really does end up the year of the copycats. He's following in Roku's footsteps by trying to become a conduit for cable television.

Bottom line: Apple's future does not lie in content; it lies in hardware. We do not go to Apple because of its software and services. We do not go to Apple because of the content it delivers. We use iTunes almost by default. By and large, we use apps developed by others -- not Apple -- on Apple devices. And the content the company sells doesn't derive meaningful revenue, nor does it keep people hooked on Apple devices as some would have you believe.

Apple's great devices keep people hooked on Apple's great devices.

For the time being, the power, glory and genius of Jeff Bezos keeps people hooked on Amazon. As the company continues to execute its master plan on the road to world e-commerce domination, the few folks who actually bet against Bezos will continue to feel pain.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland

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