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Since When Is the Guy With the iPhone Not Cool?

Jason is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

Has Apple gone “Granny-Smith”? If not, some say it has at least lost its appeal, as a flurry of (dare we say it before the Apple faithful…) “better” devices have made their way into the market, and in most cases, into consumer’s hands. There is a technological superpower battle being waged, and just as in the comic books, the combatants used to work together.    

“Frienemies”:

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) used to have an understanding. Each rocked and rolled on the market, and saw its share price rise higher than $500 (with analysts crying out that there was more room to grow). Apple made the head turning, pre-sale blowout buying, gossip-leading phones, and Google made really cool applications, sold some phones of its own, provided Apple use of its coolest toys (like Google Maps), and “oh yeah, had that Android software thingy.” Yet, in this understanding there was always an understated referral to Apple as apex, almost as if it was not seriously possible for Google to be a challenger (yet it was sweet of them to try).  But now things seem different, has there been a shift in the balance of power? It would seem to be the case; as over the last three months Apple has found itself down more than 12% while Google has hardly been down less than 3%.   

A Matter of Reputation:

Apple has lost more than its footing with investors in the last few months; it’s also lost some street credibility. I can attest to seeing what looks like a staged commercial each time I see a pair of folks comparing the iPhone to one of Google’s Android powered devices (like the Nexus 4); it usually happens in scenarios where the iPhone seems to be out of its element (like producing a quality picture in a dark locale). Happy-go-lucky, the Android user rises to the occasion and snaps a nice picture, while the iPhone user is left looking as sad as Michael Jordan playing baseball. This is not to say every feat by Google is a fail waiting to happen for Apple, not at all. Some Android claims are just downright cheesy. I wish I had a $100 dollars (Why wish for a nickel?) for every time I saw a Google powered device claim it was “special” for performing some task that Apple users have had for free in the App Store for months.  

But for many investors the war over the phone market is already too saturated. Perhaps sensing this shift in tech usage, Google and Apple have taken their rivalry to the tablet market.

To tech consumers, the choice standing before them in the retail tablet market can at times be as clear as the viewpoints of a political campaign. However, for some a choice between devices like the Google Nexus 7 and the iPad Mini is simply monetary first and features second; which is not good news for Apple. The Nexus 7 3G is $299 while the iPad Mini LTE is $459 (bare bones versions of each are $199 and $329 respectively) making the Nexus 7 the “monetary first” winner. When looking at key differences between the two tablets, one of the biggest “Kickers” is that the Nexus 7 lacks a rear facing camera and depending on the consumer this could be a big, or a small “Kick”.  The striking resemblance in features between so many of Google and Apple’s products seems to suggest a leveling of the playing field has occurred (which Google alludes to in its marketing for the Nexus). That being said, Apple will need a really “Big Kick” to regain its dominance in the market place and around low lit areas.

Foolish Bottom Line:

This is a pivotal time for these tech giants, who throughout their tenure as top dogs have given the market its fair share of volatility. To profit through the 2012-13 season there are some tough questions investors must ask themselves: Is Apple now ripe for a sell or in season for a buy? Has Google more room to grow? Investors should take care to weigh market performance, consumer turnout, and future product development when considering short or long term positions in these tech titans. 


MindOverMarket has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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