Dueling Fools: iPod Rebuttal

No fair, Tim. You bring up sequential growth to show how portable Macs are trouncing iPods lately, but we both know that the iPod has a strong seasonal bent -- umm, check that stocking for your iPod this year, Tim -- that is absent from the smoother Mac sales cycle.

Even though iPods are still a bigger contributor to Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) business than its portables, I'll let that slide.

I can make my rebuttal short and sweet, because you pretty much made the best argument for embracing the iPod as the key driver to Apple's present and the perception of its future. You brought up the iTV streaming gizmo and the ever-elusive iPhone.

Why iTV? Why iPhone? Why couldn't it be MacTV or MacPhone? Oh, that's right. It's Apple going ka-ching over the iPod. What do you say about that? How about a little iGotYou! Even Apple software has taken to the iPod master with Apple's iLife.

What's that? Apple has been using that lower case "i" in older products like the iMac? The iMac was introduced three years before the iPod? Are you sure you're not talking about Iomega here?

Oh boy. This isn't going so well for me.

I will say that rival computer makers have tried to expand into entertainment products. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) , Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) , and Gateway (NYSE: GTW  ) have all tried to make a play in the flat-panel television market. The results have been uninspiring, for the most part. In that same time, Apple has really broken through with a smash hit in consumer electronics. It has what every other rival would love to have: a strong presence in two dynamic markets. If you're Apple, you embrace that. You drop the Computer from your name, and you address the much larger crowd of iPod owners, because that's where the bigger opportunities lie down the road.

And don't go underselling the youth market, Tim. One of Apple's biggest failures came when it relinquished the lead in the classroom to Dell. Those kids grew up mostly Apple-free, and it cost the company dearly in dwindling computer market share.

The iPod has brought Apple back into the classroom. It will be the tail that wags the dog to a brighter future -- or at the very least, a brighter fire hydrant.

Think you're done with the Duel? You're not! Go back and read the other three arguments, thenvote for a winner.

Have an opinion on whether the Mac or the iPod drive Apple's performance? Don't stop here! Share your views with our Foolish community in our new beta service, Motley Fool CAPS.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of Apple and has a few iPods in the home, but no Macs (save one that hasn't been fired up in years). He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. Microsoft and Dell have been singled out toInside Valuereaders. Disney and Dell areStock Advisorrecommendations.The Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Rick Munarriz

Rick has been writing for Motley Fool since 1995 where he's a Consumer and Tech Stocks Specialist. Yes, that's a long time. He's been an analyst for Motley Fool Rule Breakers and a portfolio lead analyst for Motley Fool Supernova since each newsletter service's inception. He earned his BBA and MBA from the University of Miami, and he now lives a block from his alma mater.

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