Will Google Get Cook’d?

If you listen to most talking heads today you can’t help notice it seems whomever is in charge of writing for their teleprompters has just replaced Google for Apple in the story line. It would seem they’ve rehashed near word for word last years “in-depth analysis” and let the prompter role as to explain why Google is today’s darling of Wall Street. So much so it’s not near comical: It is comical.

Personally I can no longer listen to most market mavens the financial media cabals are currently parading across both screen and print to give their synopsis on why the fundamentals of this or that are sound and, will result in the land of milk and honey for years to come.

For me, if the term fundamental isn’t used in the context to explain these markets as fundamentally flawed. i.e., Adulterated by the interventionist money pumping programs underway via the Federal Reserve I turn it off because here’s my analysis: “Take away the Fed – you’ve got jack.” End of analysis. Period.

Which brings me around to thinking about the implications for these two titans vying for world consumer domination.

Tim Cook is currently in a very interesting position in the context of Apple. (Funny how the term interesting fits more than the term used less than a year ago – enviable. My how things change.)

If you’re a current Apple share holder you probably shouldn’t read any further. Apple’s stock currently being pummeled just might be the best thing to happen to both Cook as well as Apple. Yes I said that, re-reading might be painful yet – that’s what I truly think. However, as wallet shredding as this may sound, Here’s why…

When Jobs passed they were in product development cycles unlike any company before. iPod™, iPhone™, iPad™, were not just new – they were game changing in every way. Only references similar to, before electricity, before the internet, hold sway to these developments. To paraphrase Jobs: “They truly (dented) changed our universe.”

I will contend that one of the reasons why these products were such a break though, along with unrelenting commitment in their standards for design excellence came down to one thing: Jobs courage for demanding the breaking of boundaries was forged in the absolute repudiation he took when he was publicly banished to what many refer to as his “wilderness period.” (I know you’ve heard it before but it’s not trivial.)

I’m here to state both from personal experience as well as witnessing this phenom first hand with others. There is nothing more freeing – nothing that illuminates and emboldens ones spirit of determination to playing or competing than coming from the standpoint of: “Nothing to lose.”

You might think too simplistic, too cliché. However, how many “rags to riches” stories can you think of where musicians, politicians, companies or more blast onto the world stage surrounded in what seemed as glowing lights of sheer genius – only to dull and fade into the darkness the moment it seemed they began worrying about what the record labels thought, would they get re-elected, or what share holders thought?

Did Dylan listen when fans, labels, and the press told him he was finished because he went “electric?” Most artists that have a career longer than 20 minutes let alone over 20 years fall into this type of category.

Think Dave Grohl the former drummer of Nirvana. How do you think his idea of “I’m going to start a band, write the music, play guitar, and be the lead singer for my next adventure” sounded to both friends and fans? Or, more importantly “the music industry” itself?

As I’ve heard Grohl explain: (I’m paraphrasing) “If I had taken this project seriously in the beginning. I would have come up with a better name than, The Foo Fighters.” Yet, isn’t that exactly why their not only a great band (for my tastes anyway) but more or less have now surpassed the very same band everyone I’m sure told him he could never replicate in impact? He had nothing to lose. If he would have tried to replicate anything “Nirvana-ish” I believe it would have just been another story for some “Where are they now?™” series and not the current selling out of Wembley Stadium sized venues success he is today.

Cook as well as Apple itself I believe are also facing similar parallels for what comes next. Remember when Cook first took the reins? Near immediately he seemed to want signals sent so Wall Street could see he was going to be a little softer, a little more tolerable, a little more “Wall St.-ish” to the demands of the financial community. A seemingly more inclusive Apple with dividends and more. And, what did he get for all this new-found openness? Insert Newton’s gravity revelation for stock price simulation here.

As I alluded to earlier this might be exactly what someone in his position needed. Here’s where Jobs truly rose above the rest: Concentrate on the product – not Wall Street. Wall Street will sort itself out on its own if you develop groundbreaking products that people want to buy.

In other words: You now have nothing to lose. You’ll only lose if you play trying not to lose. (or trying not to lose any more.) Think this thinking isn’t as powerful as it sounds? Here’s another analogy to ponder: Ever watched a sports team dominating so much so that nearing the end of the game they begin – playing not to lose? Then lost! Playing not to lose is the surest and fastest way to do that very thing – lose.

Apple recently was again hit broadside by the wonderful tolerant players of Wall Street. Notably the David Einhorn lawsuit along with the whaling and gnashing of teeth of those wanting a “special dividend” paid. It would seem at first blush Mr. Cook has become a little more stand offish than when he first took over.

The lawsuit was decided in court rather than just an “OK, yeah sure” from management. And, the demands for giving back cash in reserves? Ah, no…Apple will use this as it sees fit. That is a 180 from what Cook and company seemed to telegraph in the early days of his position as CEO.

I believe another great indication showing that team Apple might just be on their way back to tending to their own knitting rather than listening to outside forces is the rumblings in the speculation Apple is pursuing some form of watch.

It might seem ho-hum or so what for many. Yet, wouldn’t it have been both logical as well as strategic for Apple to somehow, or some way give the financial media what they’ve been clamoring for in both story and speculation? Apple TV®.

This story is constantly bandied on by salivating Apple analysts or media types as to not only revive Apple enthusiasts – but, rekindle the love affair they had for Apple. Oh if only Apple would only talk more about Apple TV. Then they could be happy.
But – Apple isn’t.

I don’t think this is an issue one should brush aside. Yes, it could mean absolutely nothing but then again, looked through the prism of a Jobs set of glasses. I think there’s more to it than what might go unnoticed through the medias haze of “Apple’s best days are over.”

Maybe their days of being the most capitalized company in world is. But, I don’t believe for a moment it is in regards to product design, function, or break through. After all the design team is still there. John Ive in particular. And, I don’t think he’s calling it quits any time soon.

Google stock on the other hand is now currently screaming higher and higher. And, if not for the rehash of what seems more in line with an Apple retyped teleprompter read, this escalation in stock price is supposedly also a result of ideas attributable to (wait for it…) glasses? To me it seems more attributable to Fed fueled hot money out last years romance with Apple – into this years budding tale of Google’s innovation prowess.

Say what you want. Google enhanced glasses my sound cool for the geek crowd but for the rest of us? Not so much. That doesn’t mean there’s no use, or need, or want. Maybe military? Who knows. Possibly applications worth even more than consumer glasses. I’m just saying people going out and sporting glasses of any kind has never been in vogue. People want to shed glasses. Regardless if cool or not. I could be wrong, only time will tell I guess.

As Google’s share climb higher and higher; just what other “gotta have” products in the pipeline does Google have to offer in the way of products people consider “must haves?” Google is already announcing massive cuts in Motorola® personnel. Is that bullish for Android®? Who knows.

Search? You would have to disregard or intentionally not be paying attention to the implications players like Facebook®, Twitter®, and more have to rock Google’s bottom line. (Much easier than Apple’s I’ll contend.)

Of course all of this is anyone’s guess. But, nonetheless a guess or thought experiment that’s intriguing as in what happens when… or if?

Can one help but wonder what the financial media will begin asking or printing when Larry or Sergey seemingly don’t have the answers Wall Street’s Fed induced hot money investor wants to hear when the first question after explaining the glasses is: “Yeah great, what else?” Or delivers record-breaking profits only just not record-breaking enough for this “investment” cycle? Could they be victims rather than winners of Apple’s lost fortune?

With this downfall in stock valuation Cook actually has the opportunity to break free of the founders curse that still looms at Apple. However, Larry and Sergey as founders might find themselves once again having to run and compete with something originating with Jobs and Apple. Only this time its not a ground breaking innovation, rather – its their stock price.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr