Too Zune for a Requiem?

And so as all of the talk centered around how Apple had suddenly and significantly reversed its upward stock price march the “Talking Heads” were begining to swoop down on the carrion.

There were lines drawn.

Figurative ones for certain, but also the literal lines drawn by the technicians with well coiffed hair and highly tailored suits.

Then there was omenous talk about the meaning of the decreasing stock price in the face of heavily rising volume.

All scary concepts.

To me, no one will every be able to explain in purely technical or fundamental terms how a stock price can so abruptly change direction in the absence of news. For the die-hard technicians, there will certainly be someone to point out some line crossed or not crossed and use that as an explanation for Apple’s reversal.

Was some decree passed that I missed? Can people no longer liste to music or talk on cell phones?

50 Day Moving Averages. 200 Day Moving Averages. There is not shortage of examples to demonstrate points that are screaming to be made.

TooZune for a RequiemTo those, I ask if they’ve ever heard of the concepts of “sensitivity’ or “specificity?” How about “false positives and false negatives?” Have they never heard of “The Zune?”

A couple of generations ago a deservedly disrespected past President spoke of the “silent majority.” I think that in the world of stock charts the silent majority are those that don’t behave quite as predictably as a technician would have anyone bothering to listen, believe.

No one is ever going to show you the charts where the stock prices didn’t move as the technicals predicted that they should.

More than one Talking Head mentioned how no one was daring to mention how that if Apple floundered it would take the rest of the market with it.

Obviously, they don’t listen to one another and based on their ability to revise the past, they probably don’t listen to themselves.

What was especially amusing was the chorus commenting that the strong showing by Microsoft in the market today was coming at the expense of Apple shares.

And so instead, Apple just decided to join the rest of the market and head toward a triple digit gain, although it’s hard to know what was wagging what.

And as it did, the “Heads” just moved onto a different topic, one that perhaps in hindsight could prove some other hypothesis to be correct.

Yesterday I mentioned the similarities that I perceived between Apple and its recent price trajectory and that of Google in 2008.

Google became a slap in the face to just about every analyst and talking head and was so, long before the overall market plunged.

Now on the one hand, I’m an idiot and have no credentials. I can say whatever I want, regardless of how poorly conceived the thought is or how lacking in basis the idea may be.

That’s not likely to change.

It doesn’t appear as those flouting their credibility have terribly much concern for the soundness of their opinions, either. Maybe it’s just a need to fill airtime. Maybe it’s their belief that people are more likely to remember the tape measure home runs than the strike outs, but you’d have to be really hardpressed to put much stock, literally or figuratively, in anything you hear.

It wasn’t terribly long ago that Microsoft was written off as being dead. Everyone agreed that it was dead money, but more critically, it was dead in its ability to innovate and lead the marketplace.

The laughing stock of the investing world, everyone pointed to its well known consumer flops. There certainly were no shortage of those from among which to choose.

You probably don’t even remember the Microsoft Kin mobile phone. That was probably the fastest product to be removed from the market when measured against its hype.

The Zune you know.

Even its name is somewhat amusing. The Zune has become synonymous with large corporate failure, making it a generation’s version of the Edsel.

With its long list of failures you almost have to wonder why Microsoft even keeps bothering to continue banging its head against the wall constructed by Apple and its more nimble competotors.

Some people may actually remember a company called “Kodak.”

On a day that Microsoft is advancing nearly 5% to a 4 year high and on a day that Apple is again surpassing the emotionally important $500 level, Kodak is having its name removed from the theater tha for years hosted the “Oscars” under the Kodak banner.

Kodak provides a prime example of how a corporate act of omission is far worse than an act of commission.

It’s been nearly 100 years since Robert Frost published his poem “The Road Not Taken.”

However one chooses to interpret the words and sounds, there’s liability in not moving forward. Kodak invented digital photography and chose not to see the road for what it was worth.

They did nothing. They believed that nothing would develop and by their act of omission they gave a great gift to those less innovative, but unashamed to make use of the “garbage” tossed out.

As innovative as Kodak may have been, it just didn’t have the vision.

Its lens was clouded by the path that it was already on.

Kodak failed by doing nothing and they may or may not live to see another day.

If George Eastman were still alive he would finally have a reasonable excuse for commiting suicide.

On the other hand, look at Federal Express.

25 years ago it sunk lots of money into a new technology that was going to change the world of next day delivery in documents.

Without belaboring the story, what they didn’t realize that “Zap Mail,” the service that they were offering to deliver documents within two hours of their receipt would be faced with the advent of consumer facsimile machines.

In today’s dollars, the Federal Express flub would rank with the best of them, yet FedEx is going strong.

Besides me, how many people dwell on that failure?

Apple had its Newton. Even the Lisa, at least on a commercial basis has to be considered an incredible failure, although it clearly set the seeds for the Macintosh and so much more.

And so it is with Microsoft.

It’s not terribly likely that they’ve thrown anything out and they certainly don’t give it away.

Every commercial failure has some components that sooner or later are going to create consumer excitement and even more cash flow.

It does remind me of the old joke whose punchline was “and I’m laughing all the way to the bank.”

For those ready to write a “Requiem for Apple,” don’t waste your time. Instead, just re-use the requiem already written for Microsoft.

Why re-invent the wheel?

As I’m reminded everytime I want to Tweet a Whitney Houston joke: Too Zune, too Zune.”




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