There's No Way Apple Can Be This Desperate

NEW YORK (TheStreet) --

That was my reaction to a story I saw over at Business Insider that Wal-Mart (WMT) will knock the price of Apple's iPhone 5c to $27 (from $99) starting Friday on a two-year contract.

I just can't understand why Apple continues to not only wallow in the retail slums, but give outlets such as Wal-Mart so much pricing power. According to the report, Wal-Mart will slash prices and/or offer incentives on other Apple (AAPL) items as well.

Don't take this as a knock against Apple. It absolutely is not. This concern springs from my love of the company. And my desire to see it remain best in breed. It can't do that by merely looking the part of high-end consumer electronics purveyor. It must also play the part -- with across-the-board consistency.

So why hire the former CEO of Burberry?

As TheStreet's Antoine Gara points out, because Apple is a global luxury brand set to make an even bigger international push for the affluent. And there's no better person to lead that charge than Angela Ahrendts.

That strategy, however, is incongruent with what Apple does in the States. And, over the long run, losing the mystique and high-end, aspirational nature of the brand will hurt Apple.

Don't tell me Wal-Mart takes the hit on these discounts. I know they do. Don't tell me it doesn't directly hurt Apple's bottom line. I recognize this. But you can't think about so practically. You have to consider it from a more conceptual standpoint.

Is Tim Cook in such dire need of unit sales he's willing to sell Apple's soul to Wal-Mart?

I've been beating this drum for a while.

And, honestly, all I want is for Cook to address the issue with something other than a prepared statement about what a great partner Wal-Mart and other third-party retailers are.

Selling at Wal-Mart isn't a new phenomenon. I realize this. But Apple isn't the same company it was five years ago. And, maybe it's just me, but, as is the case in the wide world of retail, the discounts you can receive on Apple products at one of these big boxes just keep getting steeper.

Does Apple really want to associate itself, even if somewhat indirectly, with this pathetic race to the bottom?

It would be interesting to get Cook's (or Ahrendts') take on the notion of Apple products as mass available, not very exclusive and loosely priced vs. Apple as a company that keeps its brand image, like so much else about it, close to the vest and under tight control.

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

Rocco Pendola is a columnist for TheStreet. 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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