A 5-Point Plan to Keep Apple Great

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With the option of replacing Tim Cook with an entrepreneurial and innovative CEO like Jack Dorsey off the table, here are five things, in no particular order, Apple (AAPL) can and should do to ensure it remains the greatest company in the world.

1. As I discussed earlier this year, Apple should protect its image and pull its products from soulless third-party retailers such as Walmart (WMT), Best Buy (BBY) and Target (TGT).

Buying Apple products should be an experience, similar to the one Apple's own retail stores provide. Brands that do little more than compete on price shouldn't be hawking iPads and iPhones down the aisle from bars of soap and boxes of cereal. It's bad enough that Apple lets these stores carry its products, it's even worse when it gives them permission to offer discounts.

Cook should view it as an embarrassment that, out of the gate, Walmart can discount iPhone 5s by 10 bucks. And he should put a stop to it.

2. Create new retail partnerships with higher-end names, but not electronics chains.

Get the most high-end Apple devices in places such as Restoration Hardware ( RH), Michael Kors ( KORS) and Whole Foods Market ( WFM).

Nothing labeled "Apple" belongs anywhere within in spitting distance of inferior smartphones and tablets or Sharp television sets and such. It's all so hokey. It dilutes the image Apple should be obsessive over controlling and maintaining.

3. Never compromise on price.

While it's great to see Tim Cook decide against going "cheap" with iPhone 5c -- in the spirit of iPad mini pricing -- trade-in programs and other gimmicks have no place at Apple. And find a way to sue people who go out and do them on their own. Vigorously defend your high-end image. Brands such as Porsche don't have to defend their images because, unlike Apple, they never compromised them in the first place.

If anybody wants cheap they can buy an iPod Shuffle or iPhone 4S.

4. Give iWork away for free. To everybody.

This seems to contradict the focus on preserving the high-end image, but it's not.

Apple is not a leader in productivity software, but it could be. Microsoft's ( MSFT) foothold with Office is too strong and Google's ( GOOG) push with its cloud-based offerings is too aggressive. Apple needs to come harder at Microsoft than it did Tuesday.

Before Apple makes iWork free across all iOS devices -- old and new -- it needs to improve the software. From there, it can make a proper consumer and enterprise push.

If you think this is pie-in-the-sky thinking, consider what Apple did to Blackberry ( BBRY).

People who defended the artist formerly known as RIM to the death claimed Blackberry would never lose with businesses because of security. They said the IT guys would never let iOS in. My response was simple: IT guys are losers. The CEO and other executives give them orders. It's their job to implement management's wishes. End of story.

That's what happened as the "bring your own device" movement took hold and Apple wiped out Blackberry. Just read the comments from the story where I claimed Apple could kill Office. They're loaded with people impressing themselves and their closest friends with their knowledge of IT. And they're making the same type of proclamations Blackberry people made as Apple was eating its lunch. Lofty technical statements that mean absolutely zilch in the real world.

Microsoft will lose with businesses. Windows and Office will die. The only question is how will Google and Apple split the market. Or will Apple take any of it at all?

If I'm Tim Cook I make it my mission in life to destroy Microsoft much in the same way Steve Jobs destroyed Research in Motion.

5. Conquer the living room.

Wouldn't it be something if Apple not only eliminated the Microsoft Office advantage, but took the one other thing Steve Ballmer actually has going for himself, Xbox, and beat that to shreds as well.

Microsoft has done an abysmal job at marketing Xbox. With the number of units sold, it's a travesty so many people still view Xbox as a weed-smoking, I live in my parent's basement gamer's toy. It doesn't matter how many people actually use Xbox as a broad family entertainment platform; the ether doesn't see it that way. This provides an opening for Apple.

While Apple could very easily go at it on its own, it would be interesting to see it make some big acquisitions in the gaming space, both console and mobile. Zynga ( ZNGA) or privately-held Kabam come to mind. Or, better yet, convince Microsoft to spin Xbox off -- as it should anyway -- and sell it to Apple.

Pipe dreams. Admittedly. So make inroads in gaming -- as Apple has with 64-bit processing on iPhone 5S -- and follow through, not with a smartwatch, but with a combined Apple television set and set-top box controlled by and synced with your iPhone and/or iPad.

If Apple is working with cable/satellite and content companies on anything, it shouldn't be about licensing programming. A waste of time. The talks should focus on how to work out a structure where the old media subsidizes the cost of a full-fledged Apple TV, like the wireless carriers do with iPhone, and sells them in Apple Stores and online.

Protect the image. Never go cheap. Kill Microsoft. Neutralize Google. And conquer the living room.

If I'm Tim Cook, these are the things on my office cork board.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a columnist and TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola makes frequent appearances on national television networks such as CNN and CNBC as well as TheStreet TV. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.

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