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  • I Will Never Wear Diapers For Apple. 0 comments
    Feb 7, 2013 1:36 PM | about stocks: AAPL

    Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) has received a lot of accolades for its Superbowl commercial featuring Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd. I really wanted to like it since I am a big fan of the two and especially of Judd Apatow in whose films they often both appear. At face value, the spot was pretty good, I have to admit. So why has something about it been bugging me for the past few days? ...Rogen, ...Rudd, ...Lebron James, all being themselves; what's not to like?

    Well, I realized this morning, that's precisely it: they weren't being themselves. At least not their usual character selves with which we're familiar. In Apatow's films, which have made them both famous, they usually play characters that are struggling to remain authentic in a world that demands conformity. Rogen's roles are mostly immature man/child characters who fight fiercely to remain free of life's encumbrances, while Rudd plays his bookend: a man who has been tied down by life - wife, children, business, dependent parents - and trying desperately to break free and get back to a more youthful care-free Eden, which is Rogen's domain.

    So why are the two of them fawning all over themselves to hawk Samsung smartphones? Rogen goes so far as to say he would even wear diapers for Samsung. ...Good grief, man. Get a grip on yourself. Remember in "Knocked Up" how it took you a whole movie just to think about reading pregnancy books to win the respect (and potential love) of an incredibly beautiful woman carrying your child? Where is your self-respect? Where are your core values?

    Ah, core values, now we have gotten to the meat of the problem. Rogen and Rudd seem like a good fit for an upstart Samsung that has previously ridiculed Apple fanatics for blindly following a brand. But that's not the characters that show up in this commercial. Instead they are fanboys struggling, not to be authentic, but to sell their souls to represent Samsung. This is what has been bothering me. As Samsung moves from underdog to market leader, it is shedding one message for another. This bugs the heck out of me, as a person, as a consumer, and as a long-term Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) investor and user.

    Now I am not a numbers guy, or a technician, and while I'm a bit of a value guy, I really invest based on story. I need a good story, and Apple, unlike Samsung, has had one, and only one, for a very long time. Way back in the 1990's when Apple was on the ropes and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) ruled the roost, I began using Apple's OS to do my work. I took to the platform quickly, because it seemed designed specifically to get out of the way and ease my work flow. So when there were projections that Apple could go out of business, I was freaking out, thinking what the heck was I going to do without that platform? Now, I've used Wintel machines quite a lot, and they're not for me. The constant distractions and commands popping up telling me to mind something or another; I can't stand it. I just want the machine to get out of the way so I can focus on the task at hand. Once I had that "what will I do without..." moment, I realized this was a great investment. I bought the stock and started telling all my investor friends to take a look, that Wall Street just wasn't getting it. Anytime you think you can't do without a product, better buy its maker, because that company is onto something big.

    So, that said, what's so different about Apple? Well, if you really want to know, take a look at their commercials.

    While Apple products are shown in the company's commercials, they are never the focus. If you think about it, it's always content that is featured and Apple is only a bystanding enabler. Think about the early IPod ads: it was always great music that was featured. In the dancing silhouette ads, it was a person enjoying their music with a glimpse of a give-away earbud wire. Brilliant! And an Apple ad this holiday season showed (I'm assuming, I admittedly only saw this ad in bars with the sound off), a grandfather and a granddaughter on two Ipads in Facetime. The granddaughter is playing a ukulele on one and singing to the grandfather who is listening and smiling on the other (even with the sound off, you get it). The star is their relationship's tender moment; the Ipad is merely present -- no product sales pitch here, just content enabler. Brilliant advertising.

    Android users like to think of us Apple users as sheep, like we're blind to the possibilities of other platforms. Well, maybe I don't get Android or Samsung, but now that some pundits are again predicting Apple's future demise, I'm thinking: what on earth would I do without my IPhone, IPad, or IMac? I couldn't possibly switch. ...Now, THAT is what makes Apple unique, and while many investors know Apple users are loath to move out of their chosen ecosystem, many simply don't understand why. So I'll tell you.

    Because Apple is about Me. And my life. And my content. The design is super simple and only comes in neutral colors (once colors arrive, it will be about personal expression, not the device). Why? Because Apple is trying to get out of the way. They realize it's not about them. It's not about their device; it's the CONTENT that matters. Apple puts me first, and never, never, never asks me to wear diapers. Or even think about it. Because they know I won't. Not under any circumstances. Not even for a cheaper phone.

    That is the core value that gives Apple a monopoly, meaning: they have no competitor for my business. I don't want an open system; I want a gated community. Mostly, because I don't want to think about my device. I just want to focus on my life. I want one company to take responsibility for the hardware AND the software AND the security of the platform. And I need that company to share my values. For almost twenty years, Apple has shared my values, and I trust they will continue to do so for the next twenty.

    Now that kind of loyalty is really worth something. To a company, and to its investors. Advertising agencies work night and day to find that. Samsung doesn't seem to have it, because you get it, not by sayingyou're the next big thing, but by showing you can make people's lives better on a day to day basis.

    Based on its commercial, Samsung's values to me seem fickle, and they threw their biggest client, Apple, under the bus. So why the heck would they care about me? And I'm sorry, I just can't trust anyone who gives me something for free, whether that's an operating system (Android), or an at-cost device (Kindle); because I know they will eventually want something from me in return, and I like to know what that something is in advance. I will pay money, a lot of money, to have my way and remain true to my core values, and I will keep paying one trusted company so long as they never betray that trust.

    I have to think that anyone who 'gets' Apple feels the same way, whether they realize it, or not. And there's an army of us out there. That kind of loyalty simply can't be cooked into the price of Apple stock with its enterprise PE well below 10.

    Now, admittedly, choosing a personal computing platform and buying a stock are two very different things. True, but the concept of ecosystem loyalty seems to be at the heart of both concepts right now. Until its core values change, Apple can simply never be the new Research in Motion (NASDAQ:BBRY) or Nokia (NYSE:NOK), because as a brand, they have a consistency that inspires unwavering loyalty based on trust. A trust built on putting people and content first and getting the heck out of the way. Seth Rogen may yet wear diapers for Samsung, but I will never wear diapers for Apple. And I trust, Apple will never ask.

    Disclosure: I am long AAPL.

    Stocks: AAPL
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