When we talk of things that could go wrong at Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) -- or at any hot company -- it often comes back to something as simple as this: That they'll wind up believing their own b.s. or hype, making them vulnerable to get hit by something out of left field. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is clearly in the "believing its own b.s." stage, with an arrogance that comes from success, but an arrogance that can also lead to failure -- not as in failing as a company, but creating a level of hype and anticipation that can ultimately work against shareholders if all doesn't go just according to plan.
As anybody who has followed my writings on Apple knows, I will sing the company's praises for coolness and, with iTunes, spectacular technology. I own multiple Apple products; I'm typing this on a Dow Jones-supplied MacBook Pro that runs Windows 99% of the time. (Wouldn't know this is a Mac.)
My comments, in the end, are about what Apple is worth. Maybe it'll double from here. Or triple. Maybe it won't. But the sheer arrogance of rolling out a product with a name (iPhone) owned by Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) before getting Cisco's approval is the ultimate of arrogance. (If you haven't seen the news: Cisco is suing Apple. This update: In the ultimate show of arrogance, Jim Goldman reported on CNBC that Apple calls the suit "silly.") Sure, Cisco probably purposely dragged its feet on striking a deal to get the highest price possible in a licensing deal, but still: Laws are laws, patents are patents and trademarks are trademarks. And while Apple is great at thinking outside the box, brazenly violating trademarks isn't outside the box; it's below the belt and strikes to the heart of the company's culture -- something that if it isn't careful could work against the company.
Speaking of the iPhone: As cool as it is, it's still unclear whether it really is a game-changer. One great game-changer from days past that doesn't get much attention these days is Adobe's (NASDAQ:ADBE) Acrobat, then dubbed "Carousel." Bulls touted it as the reason Adobe would be the hottest software company this side of Microsoft. This, after all, was software that would let us read documents on line. How cool is that? (Very!) Turns out Adobe made next to nothing on Acrobat (the reader); it's given away for free. The iPhone (or whatever it'll be called) won't be given away for free -- at least not by Apple -- but the question remains: When prices fall so everybody can get their hands on it (assuming they want it by then) how profitable will it be?
Final tidbit: With its rapidly rising stock, Apple has twice the market cap of Motorola (MOT), but less than half the sales.
AAPL/MOT 1-yr comparison chart