5 Signs that Apple Will Trick-Or-Treat As Microsoft

It's almost Halloween, and all good (and not-so-good) boys and girls have long planned their costumes. But ever since the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that it considered corporations to be people, it seems only reasonable to let companies in on the fun as well. But what sort of costume do you get for a firm, particularly in high tech, where so much of the fantastical comes to reality?

Instead of dressing as Napoleon or Florence Nightingale, the choice has to be another company. One with a reputation. One whose identity can't be missed. And when you're about as economically recognizable as possible -- if you're Apple (AAPL) -- you choose an icon: Microsoft (MSFT). And with the way things have gone at Apple, you might wonder whether it had been preparing for a while.

Here are some of the leading examples of what Apple has done in different areas to make someone wonder if it was turning into Microsoft, along with the next logical step in each case.

Product Marketing

  • Announce an OS upgrade like Mac OS Lion nine months before it is supposed to ship, rather than right before it's ready to go.
  • Slip the date when it comes up.

CEO Appearances

  • Have your CEO spread a mist of fear, uncertainty, and doubt about a competitor, even if he needs to do so during your last earnings call.
  • To complete the transformation of Steve Jobs into Steve Ballmer, drop the turtleneck, shave the top of the head, apply wax, and buff soundly to dazzle the cameras.

Customer Service

  • Antenna problem? We don't see no stinkin' problem!
  • It's not a bug. It's a feature.

Distribution

  • Wal-Mart.
  • Dollar stores.

Raison d'Être

  • Stock price forgives all.
  • Wait till next year.
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