AAPL: Great fall or great valley

AAPL: Great fall or great valley

Throughout the course of American history, there has always been a giant in the microprocessor industry. There are common, household names that are likely never to be soon forgotten: Microsoft. IBM. And Apple.

Apple Incorporated, an electronics developer that started in 1976 has traveled a rocky road since its founding by the late Steve Jobs. With roller coaster-like financial performance from its founding through the mid-90’s, the fate of the company seemed uncertain. Then, in 1996, after having been fired about a decade earlier, Steve Jobs was brought back to the firm, and a couple years later, in 1998, Apple released the iMac, which opened the door to a decade and a half of prominence and dominance in the consumer electronics market.

From 1998 onward, anyone can tell you what happened: The iMac. The iPod. MacBooks. New iterations of iPods: mini, shuffle, touch. The iPhone. The iPad. Apple had achieved what no other company has ever done: associating a certain type of electronic device with the branded name, much in the same way that tissues are automatically referred to as ‘Kleenex’. Not frequently, up until very recently, would people ever ask if you had an mp3 player or a smartphone or a tablet. They asked if you had an iPod, an iPhone or an iPad, because that was the standard.

Creeping up from below the hoopla of smashing success on behalf of Apple came names that spell death for Apple: Asus, Samsung, and Google. Competition, that pesky, annoying phenomenon that shows up when innovators release their products to the market, had shown up on Apple’s front doorstep. The days of total dominance were over. Android had arrived.

Some five and a half years after the first iPhone and four and a half since the release of the first version of the Android OS, Apple finds itself in dire straits. After hitting a market high of $700.71 on September 21, 2012, Apple has plummeted over 250 points, or 35.7%, in just 4 months.

There is one question that everyone is asking: ‘Why?’ Why are Apple shares tumbling so mightily in such a short period of time? Is it something they did? Wall Street projected Apple to sell 50 million iPhones last quarter, and they came up short at just under 48 million. Surely, that is not enough to justify such a dramatic fall.

History will give the best insight available. Not too long ago, Microsoft dominated the landscape. For the 80’s, and 90’s, no other name was so commonplace in software than Microsoft. Nothing in particular caused the shift away from such dominance. Time did. The same happened to IBM before Microsoft, and the same is starting to happen to Apple now. The reason why it is, no one knows for certain. What is just as intriguing a thought is who will take their place.