Economic Outlook: The iconic Apple

By ANTHONY HALL, United Press International  |  Aug. 25, 2011 at 8:43 AM
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U.S. tech giant Apple Inc. will find out soon that "What have you done for me lately?" is a fundamental part of doing business.

Apple, of course, is Sony, circa 1950, or Marvel Comics in the Stan Lee era or McDonald's Corp. almost anytime -- companies that can do no wrong.

Critics, yes. McDonald's has critics. But when they offer salad or expand their coffee menu, failing to notice would be a big mistake. Marvel Comics was said to corrupt young minds, but they created icons by the dozen and it's hard to argue with an icon -- especially one with super powers.

But mostly Apple is Sony when Sony grabbed hold of the transistor radio and for a decade or two whenever you turned around Sony was the first and the shiniest.

Apple has critics. Most of the criticism of late is flat-out bewilderment over how good they are at keeping secrets, including the surprise announcement that Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs would step down and be replaced by three-time interim CEO Tim Cook.

The media is saluting Apple's departing CEO, whose career has been hampered by cancer and who has a deserved reputation and a slight Bob Dylan complex -- as a person who distrusts the press, as it were.

Jobs, however, used that distrust to his advantage. It might be said he turned a lemon into an Apple.

The lesson incoming CEO Tim Cook should learn is all those guard-it-with-your-life secrets at Apple are an integral part of the company's mystique. A company with mystique -- isn't that fairly rare these days?

In international markets Thursday, the Nikkei 225 index added 1.54 percent and Shanghai composite index gained 2.92 percent. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rose 1.47 percent and the Sensex in India fell 0.85 percent.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1.08 percent.

In midday trading in Europe, the FTSE 100 index in Britain was flat, up 0.02 percent, while the DAX 30 in Germany rose 0.63 percent. The CAC 40 in France rose 0.95 percent and the Stoxx Europe 600 added 0.42 percent.

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