This commercial defined the perennial ethos of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). Like Hunger Games, it represented rebellion against a soulless regime (NASDAQ:MSFT). But for revenue in China, Apple is now partnering with a soulless regime of censorship by placing Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) search in its devices. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), on the other hand, stood against censorship in 2010, refusing to participate in the governmental repression of Internet freedom.
Apple's censorship co-conspiracy is "strike one". The rebellion you loved, in relation to a country whose policies signal the future of global democracy, is a rebellion no longer alive in Apple. By putting economics before decency, Apple may as well have deported Hamza Kashgari. Because if the line is not drawn at censorship, there is no line, because there is no sunlight with which to see.
If you see transparency as a long-term profit-generating system (arguably what allowed innovation in the United States to lead the industrial revolutions), Google is your buy. The Chinese people respect history, and in 10 years they will remember who took a stand for their intellectual economy. As Starbucks has shown, there is long-term value in being good. It is ultimately all about the money, and smart money understands that "sunlight is the best disinfectant" in a healthy economy. Okay, that's it for strike one.
Steve Jobs believed Apple's operations were a better investment than whatever shareholders could do with capital returned in a buyback or dividend. Google has also refused to appease shareholders' trivial desire for tax savings and lazy profits. But with Jobs gone, Apple has decided its shareholders can find better uses for its money than Apple could by investing in Apple operations. Strike two. The growing Apple, who thought its own operations were the best available investment in the world, is no longer represented by Apple. The big leader who refuses premature return of capital is now Google. Okay, on to strike three.
Have you heard of Pinterest? It's a leader in "discovery", the emerging force in search that has propelled Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) to new heights. Pinterest was directly inspired by Kevin Rose, an intuitively visionary and charismatic Valley insider. Facebook and Google recently fought a bidding war for this individual who is a next-generation Steve Jobs. Where was Apple? Perhaps too busy preparing a dividend. It's strategic acquisition time, with Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) buying OMGPop, and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) buying Kiva. But Apple is more concerned with acquiring the strategic favor of shareholders.
Or maybe Apple didn't want to hire Rose because he has expressed concern over Baidu's censorship. In any case, Strike Three -- it's Google's turn to step up and hit a grand slam. With a P/E (22) modestly above the market's average, it's easy to bet on this sustainable hall-of-famer. Now is a time to sell some Apple and buy more Google, in my opinion.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
Additional disclosure: This does not constitute financial advice.