When I die, I want to be prepared to claim the greatest virtue of all: that I was a man who made money.
Francisco, from Ayn Randis Atlas Shrugged
I criticize Apple a lot.
Even though there are times when Apple can do no wrong in my eyes, thereis an equal number of times in which I seriously wonder if theyire "rocking the ganj," as Jay and Silent Bob would say. (For you strait-lacers out there: "rocking the ganj" is slang for smoking marijuana... or so Iim told :-)
As a Mac writer, I often wonder if anyone at Apple HQ ever gives notice to things that I and other web scribes say. Do they read our critiques of Apple products, business practices and the like? I donit kid myself for too long, since Iive never been flown to Cupertino for any product briefings, nor do I share the surname of the Mac mediais Three Wise Men: Ihnakto, Pogue and Levitus.
But a small part of me canit help but wonder
This week, however, I have more reason to keep voicing my opinion on things Macintosh: I just bought several shares of Apple stock (AAPL: on Nasdaq). How much? None of your business. Letis just say that it was a four-digit sum.
This isnit my first time betting on Appleis stock. I bought several shares back in 1998 -- you know, the period during which everyone was pressing their black suits to wear to Appleis wake. Well under $20 a share, I tossed a chunk of my own money (some from the checking account, some from a credit-card cash advance) as a show of faith in what Apple was doing. I went to a local financial "wizard," some anal-yst named Josh Arnold, who happens to have a radio show. I told him that I wanted to make a speculative purchase of AAPL, and the bastard damned near laughed in my face. All he did was wax on about his wisdom in buying shares of Coca-Cola long ago. I didnit tell him to kiss my butt, but I thought it as I left him sitting there, sipping his Coke.
I went to another brokerage firm (I didnit even think of on-line brokers like SureTrade). The broker I dealt with had bought an iMac from me at CompUSA (hi, Jan!). She understood. I bought shares of AAPL at $19, I believe. I tripled my money in a couple of years, as you all know (AAPL shot up to the stratospheric $100 ranges).
Excuse me? Hell, yeah, I sold my stock! "I was born at night, but it wasnit last night," as they say.
Anyway, Iive watched AAPL with interest on a regular basis, pondering another purchase several times over the last couple of years. With a good chunk of extra money from my writing gigs and a weekend job at a local Mac retailer, I decided to take the plunge again, this time for the long term. Last time, I spent a lot more than Iim spending this time. This time, Iim going for the long haul; last time, it was pure speculation.
I canit give any one reason why Iim doing it again, but I can give a few:
- AAPL is a steal at $17.83 (the closing price on 8/30 and the price at which I made my purchase). I had money sitting in a brokerage account for a few days, waiting for the price to dip below $18 (my personal "buy" range).
- AAPL is one of the best buys on the market. Cimon! Apple and Dell are the only PC makers making any money right now -- Dell, by sheer volume; Apple by hard work, blood, sweat and tears.
- AAPL is positioned to go up, not down. Thereis Apple Stores. New iMacs will appear one of these days. Trendsetting hardware and software are perennial givens. And who knows what Apple has behind Door Number Three
- Iim all for the underdog. Iim confident that Apple will pull another hat trick and surprise the critics. Whenever Apple has been down, something good came as a result.
- How else will I afford a high-end PowerBook? My wife added this one
- Iim putting my money where my mouth is.
I like to talk about how great Apple is. Actually, I donit like to talk, prolific web writing notwithstanding. I prefer to be a man of action. What better action to state your confidence in a company than to pluck down your hard-earned moolah?
My stock purchase is a public, symbolic statement that Apple knows what it is doing, and that the company is headed in the right direction. I am putting my money to my mouth and saying that I believe Appleis greatest days are ahead. I am faith-leaping on the belief that OS X, Apple Stores, iApps, iMacs -- all of it -- is just a precursor to the companyis true and full potential. Like I said, the companyis better days are head.
My stock purchase is also a public declaration that I have every right to criticize the company when I believe it can do better. There are things Iive wanted to say that I didnit, believe it or not, because I felt that I had no right to do so. But, no longer. There are many things that I hope Apple will do, things that I have not discussed heretofore. More on that in future columns. I no longer feel bashful about saying those things. In short, Steve Jobs works for me now. Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! "Hey, Steve! Whois your daddy? Who? Who? Who?"
Anyway I think anyone with some extra money laying around should strongly consider a purchase of AAPL stock for the duration (NOTE: I am not a professional; Apple could go belly up tomorrow -- end of disclaimer). Or, you can just vicariously play Apple stock owner through Yours Truly. I do plan to come back to this topic of being a newby stock owner. I think it will be interesting to watch and root for AAPL, now that I have a vested interest.
We also have a forum dedicated to discussing AAPL and other Apple financial news, so please stop by and make your presence known and your opinions heard.
I think that Charlie hit the proverbial nail on the head when he made the following comment in our financial topic named "At what price did you buy AAPL?":
Moi aussi! 1000 shares....
Despite the ensuing carnage, I stand by it: it was a good price for a sound investment when I bought it, and it remains so IMO. The fact that I could have made the same investment a week later for half the price I paid is just the breaks of the game. I have no plans to bail. Call me a dizzy optimist if you must, but as far as I can tell, the upside on Apple remains intact:
- OS X, despite the rough rollout & hysterically negative reaction in certain quarters, remains poised to drive Appleis fortunes to historic highs;
- Microsoft is more vulnerable now than ever before, facing as they do ongoing government scrutiny, ever-increasing dissatisfaction within their user base & hostility from the press, and growing alarm over their future plans.
I expect this next year to be a battle-royal between Apple & Microsoft -- or, if you prefer, between Jobs and Gates. Each company is gambling its future success (and in Appleis case, perhaps its very survival) on this Fallis OS releases. OS X is Appleis last, best hope of redrawing the market-share map; Jobs has quite rightly remained focussed on preparing X to survive a street fight versus the Windows 2k/NT/ME/XP/#? posse (I sincerely hope he has ignored 99.9% of the armchair quarterbacking that has flooded the bitstream since 3/24).
Ever since returning to the helm, Jobs has been preparing for this confrontation. Like Napoleon in exile, I daresay heis been focussed on this convergent moment ever since Scully dropped the legal ball over look-&-feel, allowing Windows to take the field unopposed. The innovations and initiatives that have come out of Cupertino have galvanized the industry: Once again, all the smart folks are watching Apple; Microsoft, on the other hand, has been reacting to Appleis various initiatives in their time-honored fashion: cobbling together copycat offerings designed to hijack Apple innovations and steal Appleis thunder.
David-&-Goliath analogies notwithstanding, there remains a crucial distinction between the companies and their strategies: Apple is working from a long-term plan toward a long-term goal, with excellent success & growing imind-sharei; Microsoft simply & reflexively seeks to breathe up all the air, in the face of ever-increasing opposition.
Add to this the weakness imposed by market saturation, the impediment posed by the lengthy anti-trust action, the increasing sophistication of the marketplace, the divergent commitments of Intel, and the dis-infatuation w/ MS that has become rampant in recent years, and you have a situation where anything can happen.
Personally, I think Appleis been juking Microsoft out of its collective socks (starting w/ iMac), and I expect it will continue to do so. Accordingly, I expect OS X to be a much tougher competitor than WinXP is prepared for. Even a modest showing, coupled w/ compelling products a la the recent iBooks (and if tech-sector bloodletting has exhausted itself), could see AAPL back around 60 by Yulei02.
Summary: Me sell? HAH!
 I wouldnit be at all surprised if the OS X that greets WinXP was substantially more / better than all the screaming and howling has led us all to believe. The advantage of catching MS flat-footed, unprepared for the competition it faces, would be ENORMOUS. Since his return, Jobs has demonstrated not merely a new grasp of strategy & tactics, but also the ability to repeatedly take Redmond by surprise.
Meanwhile, Iim going to go and start counting that huge windfall that AAPL will give me in the next few years, as soon as America can get from under this Recession That No One Will Admit Exists.
Next time you see me, Iill be the rich guy counting his stock money and wearing the T-shirt that says "Steveis Daddy."
I wonder what the poor people are doing this summer?
For further reading:
- Yahoo: detailed stock info on AAPL
- CBS MarketWatch: Apple confirms sales job cuts
- BusinessWeek Online: No shine to Apple on the Street
- Yahoo: Amazon.com to sell Macs
Rodney O. Lain is a gambling man, so heis putting his money on Apple. Fiveill get you ten that Steve Jobs still wonit know him from Adam. Nevertheless, he is a regular editorial writer for The Mac Observer and also writes a column called "iBrotha."