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John Rothe is CEO & Founder of Riverbend Investment Management. John founded Riverbend in 2006 to provide institutional style investment management to individual investors. Prior to starting the firm, John was a Vice President & OMEGA Portfolio Manager with Oppenheimer & Co., and... More
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  • Is It Becoming Cool To Hate Apple? 0 comments
    Oct 11, 2012 9:18 AM | about stocks: AAPL, MSFT, GOOG

    (click to enlarge)

    Apple's stock is starting to break down - causing many to speculate on the future of the company. While many analyst are still in love with the company, the opinions I hear from colleagues, friends and family are not too positive. (Disclaimer - I am an Apple Fan Boy. My entire "eco-system" is Apple.)

    (click to enlarge)

    Yes, Apple has a great product line and iPhone sales are through the roof, but the opinions I am hearing do not reflect the current state of the company's product line. Instead it is becoming more and more apparent to me that Apple is becoming the villian in the tech industry.

    Apple's Lawsuits: Litigation vs Innovation

    In the news, Apple seems more focused on suing people instead of innovation:

    What Are Apple's Next Lawsuit Targets?

    Apple Sues Polish Grocery Store Over A.pl Name

    Apple Sues Samsung For 'Slide-To-Unlock' And Other Ludicrous iPhone Patent Violations

    The big worry here, is that more money, time and energy is being spent on litigation instead of innovation.

    From the NY Times:

    The Patent, Used as a Sword

    In the smartphone industry alone, according to a Stanford University analysis, as much as $20 billion was spent on patent litigation and patent purchases in the last two years - an amount equal to eight Mars rover missions.

    Last year, for the first time, spending by Apple and Google on patent lawsuits and unusually big-dollar patent purchases exceeded spending on research and development of new products, according to public filings.

    Soon, Apple's engineers were asked to participate in monthly "invention disclosure sessions." One day, a group of software engineers met with three patent lawyers, according to a former Apple patent lawyer who was at the meeting.

    The first engineer discussed a piece of software that studied users' preferences as they browsed the Web.

    "That's a patent," a lawyer said, scribbling notes.

    Another engineer described a slight modification to a popular application.

    "That's a patent," the lawyer said.

    Another engineer mentioned that his team had streamlined some software.

    "That's another one," the lawyer said.

    Is Apple The New Villain?

    Remember the 2001 movie Antitrust starring Tim Robbins and Ryan Phillippe? It focused on a fictional company that shared many similarities to Microsoft in which movie critic Robert Ebert found Tim Robbin's character, Gary Winston

    to be a thinly disguised pastiche of Bill Gates; so much so that he was "surprised [the writers] didn't protect against libel by having the villain wear a name tag saying, 'Hi! I'm not Bill!'" Similarly, Ebert felt NURV "seems a whole lot like Microsoft.

    video link for RSS readers: http://youtu.be/eS1EOjO9sgw

    In 2001 Microsoft was the villain and it's stock price reflected this despite a strong product line:

    (click to enlarge)

    source: Growth Dynamics

    Or Apple Just Becoming "Old"?

    I have had numerous iPhones and instead of upgrading to the iPhone 5, I bought something else. While looking at phones, my 9 year old son bluntly stated "don't get another iPhone. They are for moms and old people".

    While the data shows that my son may not be 100% correct, he IS the next generation of consumers in-line for a smartphone.

    (click to enlarge)

    Source: Mac Observer

    So there may be some truth to this ad:

    video link for RSS readers: http://youtu.be/nf5-Prx19ZM

    Unfortunately, for the future of Apple's stock price, the tides seem to be slowly changing…

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    Stocks: AAPL, MSFT, GOOG
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