Editorial: It Sure Is Lonely At The Top

In 2007, Apple had one product that was doing well in the consumer marketplace, the iPod. This little MP3 player was keeping the company afloat. The “smartphone” market was ruled by Nokia (Symbian), RIM (BlackBerry) and the faithful Palm/Microsoft folks that were sporting those Treos and Touch Pros. As Apple rolled out the first iPhone, things quickly changed.

By 2009, there was no answer for the iPhone. Despite everyone’s efforts, Nokias market began to shrink, RIM’s trackballs were falling short and Microsoft was out of touch with the game. Then, along came Android to challenge. Android looked like the iPhone, smelled like the iPhone, but everyone was making them. It was the answer to not getting an iPhone.

Today, despite what the numbers say, Apple and Android are sharing the smartphone market quite nicely. Apple has their half, Android has their half and the world is a happy place, unless some analyst thinks your company needs to perform like it did in 2011.

Record sales numbers, immense profits and crazy levels of cashflow doesn’t seem to help a stock price much these days. According to the data, Apple shipped 48 million iPhones in the 4th quarter. Normally, this would be amazing news. Still, Apple’s stock prices have tumbled, and tumbled quickly…

It seems that being at the top of their game has zero to do with how investors, or more importantly an analyst behind a desk, sees the value of a business. It is wrong and needs to be fixed before millions of people lose millions of dollars.

Apple has done nothing, except maybe take some bad press, to devalue its stock price. People invest in Apple because quarter after quarter the cash comes in. There’s no magic formula to this, it just happens. The only question that we have is we’ve seen what 5 years away from the top looks like, and is Apple beginning that descent now? If so, those falling stock prices are the least of their concerns.

It is very lonely at the top of the industry. You have no friends, you have no help. You innovate or crumble. If Apple is lost, Android shall have its day… Then yet another will move into its place. It is only a matter of time. The question then becomes, who’s next?

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