Apple is doomed to decline

October 30, 2016   |  

Recent stories have me wondering whether Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) can maintain its current lofty position as the hippest tech on the planet.

Having worked with numerous software engineers, IT managers and graphic designers, I can say that unless you design things for a living, most deep tech folks don’t choose Macs.

Aside from a narrow group of professionals, the Apple tech is not all that. They’re great for people that want to pay a premium for the brand or aren’t particularly tech-friendly. Apple was the company that made tech cool. After Apple launched the Newton, computers were for everyone, not just geeks.

But its closed-garden approach to its products, as well as the premium its products command in the market, have always been dangerous realities that are never addressed regarding its long-term competitiveness.

Apple revolutionized computing. It then revolutionized portable music players. Then it revolutionized mobile phones.

But what has it done recently? A watch? Apple TV? It was an innovator, but it no longer is. It’s another tech company that sells its brand at a premium but isn’t executing very well on keep customers engaged.

Two brief anecdotes. Two of my daughters have Apple products and recently upgraded to OSx, Apple’s newest operating system. Both of them lost the use of their phones for days because the upgrade was buggy. Not the Apple of old.

Second, the recent back-to-school shopping numbers are in and Alphabet’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Chromebooks trounced Apple MacBook sales.

While laptop sales are falling, Chromebook sales are rising.

According to International Data Corporation, MacBook sales are off 13 percent year over year. And according to The Verge, Chromebook sales beat Mac sales as early as Q1 of this year. And back to school buying underscored the rout.

One reason may well be a MacBook runs around $1,000 and a Chromebook costs around $200. And this new trend is for students that are K-12 grades.

But what that means is, there is an entire generation that is now growing up with the integrated, cloud-based Google and Chrome platforms as their go-to operating systems.

While Apple continues to sell its exclusivity, Alphabet has developed the cheap and easy approach to hooking consumers. And it’s working. What’s more, Google’s architecture allows Windows and other open source users to access its platforms; it’s not a closed garden.

The point is, we’re seeing a changing of the guard at the top of the tech food chain. This has happened before and will continue to happen; you just have to be aware of this giant, glacial shifts.

Samsung has had to cancel production of its most popular phone because of battery issues and will take a 30 percent hit to earnings in the next quarter. Its mobile phone division may never recover.

Nokia (NYSE: NOK), once the world’s leading mobile handset maker is having trouble staying relevant. Blackberry is a speck in the rear view mirror. Motorola is gone. Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) is also now in trouble, which could spell trouble for Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO), too.

Nothing lasts forever. And Apple is looking precarious. Its broader appeal is waning, especially with a younger generation no longer aspiring to own its products. And just as Samsung flounders, Alphabet launches its new phone that many critics are saying beats the iPhone at its own game.

Apple won’t disappear given the fact that virtually every bankster on Wall Street (not to mention the rest of the world’s traders and banksters) has a significant position in Apple.

If you own some, start selling it off slowly because new, sustainable long-term highs are not likely moving forward. If you wait until the big selling starts or the volatility spikes, you’re going to lose out to the big players and watch any profits you have shrink rapidly.

— GS Early

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