Apple Can See the Future by Looking at the Past

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- People no longer consider smartphones as anything special, not at least from a historical perspective on technology. Automobiles, Radios, TVs, cellphones, and now smart phones are becoming commodity items. It's absurd and short sighted to think anything has changed in the lifecycle of new products.

What once was for only the rich and privileged are available en masse for everyone. It's one of the hallmarks of a capitalistic society, which goods and services are constantly made better, faster, cheaper.

Sure, occasionally companies forget that in order to serve consumers they need to provide the best value for the dollar. Take BlackBerry ( BBRY), for example. BlackBerry misjudged the market and didn't provide color screens reportedly because the leadership didn't think it was needed to read email.

It appears there is much to do about nothing when it comes to Apple ( AAPL) selling products at Wal-Mart ( WMT), as if the evolutionary product train is about to stop permanently at the smartphone station.

Tim Cook is a smart man, a genius, if you ask me. He surely understands not only brand life spans, but product lifespans -- like all of technology, after the honeymoon of shock and awe are over, it's a race to the bottom, albeit with quality and price segregation. Clearly smartphones aren't "special" anymore.

Selling to Wal-Mart is hardly new for Apple anyway. The Sam's club near me has sold iPhones in competition with the Apple store for well over a year now. Best Buy ( BBY) also has a full range of Apple products.

There is zero difference between buying a product at Best Buy and Wal-Mart. With the proliferation of part-time jobs, it wouldn't surprise me in the least that one could buy an iPhone at Best Buy in the morning and another at Wal-Mart later in the day and have the same person working two jobs ringing up the sale.

The alternative is to allow Google ( GOOG) and Microsoft ( MSFT) to divide the sales from the largest retailer in North America (the most profitable market), leaving Apple to risk losing critical mass and sales of Apps.

If Apple allowed that to happen, then investors assuredly would have something to worry about because then Apple would be on the same path as BlackBerry. Phone snobs get to keep their noses in the air even with Wal-Mart dropping the price because what genuinely matters is holding the latest and greatest most expensive model.

The second- and third-generation iPhones and iProducts have always been available to the average Joe through eBay's ( EBAY) and Amazon's ( AMZN) used marketplace anyway.

I took a look at eBay and found 4S phones (used) selling for under $200 and brand new for under $250, and with no contracts. Amazon was about the same, if not buying under the Amazon "Prime" 2 day shipping guarantee. This demonstrates the obvious that everyone who can afford a smart phone can afford an iPhone; it's just a matter of what model.

So what does this mean for shareholders? Instead of iPhones and Apple being thrown into the waste bin of obscurity, Apple continues with less margin pressure because they now have a new and voluminous sales channel. Apple is shifting price pressure from Apple to the retailers for a while longer.

Apple will need to come up with the next great thing. In the meantime, the profits continue to pour in.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Robert Weinstein is an active trader focusing on the psychological importance of risk mitigation, emotion and financial behavior of market participants. Robert co-founded the investing blog StockSaints, where he writes a journal about his trading activity and experiences.

In addition to TheStreet, Robert also contributes to Real Money Pro, providing real-time trading ideas for stocks, options and futures.

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