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Apple: Why pundits keep getting it wrong

COMMENTARY Punditry ain't what it used to be. If you follow Apple (AAPL), you'll notice there are an awful lot of naysayers out there. You'll also notice that they're perpetually wrong. You might conclude they're all idiots, but they're not. These are smart, competent people.

Is this a global pundit phenomenon or just an Apple thing? Let's find out.

My old friend John Dvorak once wrote "Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone" because it would destroy its reputation and profit margins. He also called Apple's iPad a "giant iPod Touch" that wouldn't have much impact on the niche tablet market.

Never mind that the iPhone and iPad accounted for 72 percent of Apple's revenues last quarter.

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Not to pick on John. The only reason I actually read his stuff is because he's insightful, funny and, as tech pundits go, pretty much on the money. Besides, he's a big boy and I happen to know he could care less what anyone thinks -- something we have in common.

And when it comes to his views on Apple, he's far from alone. I can point to commentary after commentary about how Apple's stores will be a disaster, the company will fall apart without Steve Jobs, the iPhone 4S launch was underwhelming, Google (GOOG) Android will crush iPhone sales, Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle Fire will crush iPad sales, and how vulnerable Apple will be in 2012.

While all the negatrons turned out to be dead wrong, don't expect that, or Apple's stunning record quarter, to shut them up for a while. They'll just find something else to squawk about, like how Apple's going to get killed in the TV market with their upcoming integrated television set.

So, back to the original question, here are five reasons why I think otherwise smart and competent pundits get Apple wrong more often than they get it right, meaning if you live in a cave with no Internet or TV access, you're better informed than everyone else.

Fanboys get no respect. I remember back the 90s there were analysts who thought Intel (INTC) could do no wrong. We used to call them Intel bigots. Before long, folks discounted them because they just weren't credible. What's ironic is that Intel's execution was pretty remarkable. Nevertheless, fanboy pundits are suspect; you can't trust them.

There's no inside information. Once upon a time, analysts and pundits had access to all sorts of inside information. No longer, since the SEC adopted Regulation FD (fair disclosure). And Apple's tighter with confidential information than the CIA. Without inside information, the playing field is level, meaning your guess is as good as mine or anyone else's, for that matter.

Controversy gets over all the media noise. We now have a 24/7 news cycle and all sorts of Internet and social media channels to fill up with news and entertainment. The amount of content and information is overwhelming, so you need to have a controversial point of view and a unique angle to get over the noise. It doesn't matter what you say, as long as you're a contrarian and pithy.

Nobody remembers or cares. Because everyone's so overwhelmed with information and communication, nobody has time to check back to see who was right and who was wrong. There's no accountability anymore. And nobody has time to read supporting data, either. Forget fact checking. Just get your sound bite out there and count the eyeballs and clicks.

The only thing people like more than a shooting star is a falling star. We love up-and-comers, especially David versus Goliath stories where the little guy overcomes big odds. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple and turned it around, that was great. The only thing that can beat that is if Apple turns into a train wreck like Yahoo (YHOO), RIM (RIMM), HP (HPQ) or Sony (SNE).

Which reminds me of something else John Dvorak once wrote: "Apple without Steve Jobs is Sony." Priceless.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user iota_fr.

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