How Will Apple Bulls Spin This?

| About: Apple Inc. (AAPL)
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If you follow along with the evolving pattern of denial, you have likely heard Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) bulls use all possible reasons, explanations and excuses to argue why the company will not suffer in the long-term in the absence of Steve Jobs.

One popular way they deflect attention from this very real concern is by disingenuously distorting forward-looking bearish arguments and confounding, often on purpose, short-term bullishness with long-term bearishness. To the most ardent of AAPL bulls, the mere mention of the dynasty coming to an end (before it ever really becomes a dynasty) is un-American.

Don't rain on the parade. Don't be a party pooper. Just put blinders on for the future and live fast and loose in the present. Ask Charlie Sheen how that way of being worked out for him.

In this article, I introduce something AAPL permabulls should have a fun time spinning. But first, I set the stage.

When Emotion Takes Over

If you're an AAPL bull, by all means, ride this gravy train, but keep things in check. As the writing collects on the wall, read it or, at the very least, bookmark it for future reference. There's nothing worse than getting caught with your pants down.

By and large, the conversations that develop in the comments section of even bearish Apple articles stand at relatively high levels. That's the beauty of Seeking Alpha and the investors the site tends to attract. They're knowledgeable and know how to take part in meaningful and ultimately useful discourse.

As emotion becomes more and more of a factor, however, these conversations have a way of devolving. Splinter groups of the most hardcore fan boys and girls take pages from the Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI) loyalist long playbook and immediately squash as insane any questions about Apple's future.

One of SA's best commenters, Bilton, summarized the situation nicely in a comment to one of my most recent Apple articles:

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Windows Phone: The Most 'Beautiful' Platform?

Of course, AAPL longs, Android devotees and the last dozen Research in Motion (RIMM) defenders on Earth scoff loudly when somebody suggests that Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) might actually have something with the newest Windows Phone, the Lumia 900.

In addition to creating their own not-quite-as-creative ways of distorting reality, some Apple bulls like to argue that we give Steve Jobs too much credit. I have read it all in this regard.

The technology was way over his head. His stubbornness hurt Apple. And, really, Steve Wozniak deserves the credit for Apple's success. All Jobs did well was market the products.

May so, I guess that's plausible. From what I have read, particularly since Jobs's death, Woz probably deserves more props than he receives.

So, let's hear from Woz. I saw this story over at Business Insider on Sunday. Here's the headline, followed by a key excerpt:

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  • "I definitely favor the Windows 7 phone over Android."

  • "[Windows Phone apps are] much more beautiful than the same apps on Android and iPhone"

  • "[Windows Phone] is more beautiful than the other platforms" "[I feel like] I'm more with a friend than with a tool."

Despite his love for Windows Phone's design, Wozniak said he still uses his iPhone 4S as his primary phone. He says Windows Phones need a better app selection and utilities like Android's voice dictation and the iPhone's Siri.

Alright, let it rip. He's an idiot. Fine, but he's not saying Apple is doomed long-term. Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) sucks! (I'm not sure what that has to do with anything either, but it always seems to come up).

Of course, I will be accused of being a complete and total hack, but I consider this is a worthy development (Woz's comments, not the hack part). The guy who, according to some, deserves more credit for Apple than Steve Jobs, has some really nice things to say about a Windows Phone known as the Nokia Lumia. I wonder if he has to pay for the product or if Microsoft and/or Nokia sends him one for free. If it's the latter, these guys are smarter than I thought.

In any event, I also own a Nokia Lumia. I got it last week. It has not taken long for me to settle in with it. I am close to loving it. That said, Microsoft and Nokia have their work cut out for them if they want to be a solid #3 or, gasp, achieve even more than that.

First, out of the box, the experience is not nearly as stimulating and seamless as it is when you first open and set up an Apple product. Of course, Steve Jobs controlled every detail of that part of the user experience. Second, it just feels weird plugging the phone into my computer and watching iTunes knock-off Zune pop up. iTunes feels seamless. Connected. Also because of Steve Jobs.

While a serious and expensive move, Lumia 900 represents a pilot of sorts in the Microsoft/Nokia relationship. The companies will up the ante, in all likelihood, later this year with a Windows 8 tablet and Windows 8-powered smartphones by fall.

For Microsoft, in the big picture, and Nokia, in a bid for survival, to make any sort of meaningful dent in Android and Apple's dominance, the cross-platform Windows 8/Metro experience must be absolutely "beautiful" and seamless. Plugging your Windows smartphone into your computer and seeing Zune open up has to look as normal, natural and comfortable as seeing the Windows image on startup.

It's not crazy to think that well-heeled Microsoft will help make Nokia a player and make Windows as dominant a mobile platform as it is a laptop and desktop one. While Microsoft is going after Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) as much as Apple, popular (and good and beautiful) Windows smartphones and tablets are far from a good thing for Apple.

Add this to the list of things to watch. Dividend/Buyback. Tim Cook shaking hands in China. Strong rumors of the Steve Jobs-detested mini iPad. And, the man who gave birth to Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak openly stating that something produced and directed by Microsoft (!) is more beautiful than an iPhone.

Disclosure: I am long NOK.