Tim Cook's Impotent Leadership Will Hurt Apple

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I had some dude chirp me on Twitter Tuesday because Apple ( AAPL) stock has been a nice run. He requested an apology for my coverage of the company or stock or both. I'm not sure.

I give mea culpas frequently, but not this time.

If I mea culpa'd when AAPL crossed $700 -- and everybody had it going to $1,000 (or $1,111 if you're a particular Wall Street analyst) -- I would have been dead wrong.

That said, over the last couple of years I have gravitated away from writing directly about stocks. I prefer the slightly more intellectual exercise of discussing companies. Of course, company-related discourse relates, even if indirectly, to an investor's consideration of equities, but it doesn't leave non-shareholders out.

Anyway, just as I think it's patently absurd for Tim Cook to tie his pay to AAPL's stock performance, it's equally as inane for the rest of us to correlate any company's present state and long-term prospects to day-to-day market fluctuations, short-term trends and even quarterly earnings reports.

Yes, I have proclaimed Apple "dead" on more than one occasion. But, don't be lazy. With nearly every takedown of the argument that Apple can maintain its greatness long-term, I have provided a painful amount of context.

In a nutshell ... today, Apple is great. They make the best products. My household owns a MacBook Pro with Retina Display, two iPads, an iPad mini, three iPhone 5s and an assortment of iPods. I love Apple's hardware. Outside of iPad, it's not a marketshare story; never has been, shouldn't be, hopefully never will be.

Almost by default, Apple owns the present. Google's ( GOOG) strategy isn't far enough along yet for it to qualify as a consumer mainstay on par with Apple. Microsoft ( MSFT) and BlackBerry ( BBRY) define failure from each end of a wholly pathetic spectrum. And Samsung still feels like a generic brand siphoning off of Google's open system.

Apple owns hearts. It owns minds. It makes the best, most beautiful hardware. That's where its bread and butter is. That's why it's great. That's why it should drop the rhetoric that it's a software company and make a kick-ass television that brings premium-priced, must-have products back to a commoditized space.

Samsung and others have single-handedly dumbed down the television (as hardware) industry to a point where you can pick a price range, throw a dart and, no matter where it lands, you'll end up with pretty much the same product as the options your dart overlooked.

I'm not sure how much more clear I can be about Apple, the company, today. Do I need to spend another several thousand dollars on their products to make my undying love come through more loudly and clearly?

But there are mid- to long-range concerns.

The things Tim Cook is doing that effectively urinate on Steve Jobs's legacy.

Like Apple management childishly rebelling and defensively lashing out at legitimate criticism at this year's WWDC. Or, more specifically, the rumors that keep turning into or increasingly appear to be fact -- a dividend/buyback to satisfy shareholders, a Pandora ( P) knock-off or the thing I really hope everybody is wrong on, a "cheap" iPhone. The soothsayers were wrong about the iPad mini; they better be wrong here as well.

Because, the writing is on the wall. Apple permabulls can deny the long-term treacherous impacts of Steve Jobs's death and Tim Cook's impotent leadership on the company all they want, but that doesn't make them any less relevant.

Consider that one marketshare story -- iPad. Generally, it wouldn't concern me to see Apple's marketshare in a category plummet. Again, Apple is not and should not be a marketshare story. It's more about mindshare and not compromising for a larger piece of a brainless pie. But, in this case, there might room for concern.

The cats who tell us to forgot about Steve Jobs (I'm not sure how you can discuss Apple's future and not include Jobs in the conversation) often like to point to chronology to explain away Cook's ineptness as a replacement for Jobs's greatness. Hey, this is a normal amount of time between big Apple products. Just like it was with Jobs!

This is where Cook supporters and treasonous Jobs deserters unabashedly display their cluelessness.

Those of us who have maintained the same great respect and admiration we had for Steve Jobs when he was alive understand that this is not about objective timetables. It's not about formulas or playing some schedule, timeline or apparently handwritten game plan or blueprint to a tee.

It's about intangibles like momentum. The types of things geniuses and visionaries such as Jobs and Amazon.com ( AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos become billionaires not only for understanding, but for expertly manipulating. They don't require somebody who came before them to have left a piece of paper that says Here's the pipeline. We'll do this here and that there. Quite the contrary. They're like a tight rock-n-roll band that reads one another and reads the crowd and, a la Springsteen, calls audibles during a forceful and near-flawless performance.

They bring the power night after night after night.

Tim Cook is letting Apple slip in areas where Steve Jobs would have acted. He would have sensed the need to act and executed accordingly. It's simply not in Cook's DNA to do this. That's why Wall Street has relatively little confidence in Cook as Apple's leader.

All of this to say, you can only remain great because your competition stinks or they're not far enough along in their "pipeline" for so long. It might not matter much if Apple "sucks" today, but it will tomorrow. And, eventually, tomorrow will come.

-- 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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