Buy, Sell, or Hold Smartphones?

Rob Pegoraro is a technology columnist at The Washington Post. We recently interviewed him on our Motley Fool Money radio show. Here is an edited transcript of the conclusion of our conversation, when we wrapped up with a round of buy/sell/hold and touched again on the growing battle between Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) in the smartphone arena.

Chris Hill: Let's start with something that has gotten some good reviews, but it has been criticized for its size, and one of our regulars here on Motley Fool Money, Seth Jayson, called it "waffle-sized."  Buy, sell or hold the soon-to-be-released Droid X smartphone.

Rob Pegoraro: I am a hold on that. I think the size, it may or may not be an issue. I think if you carry around your phone in a purse, I don't but I know many people who do, the size is not such a big deal. The size can be an advantage if you are not great with onscreen keyboards, but I agree, to me that is kind of a big phone. I also just don't like the fact that it doesn't have the sort of track ball most Android phones have, so when you are trying to select text or move around, you have to use just your thumbs on the screen, and that is one area, using fingertip control of text, where iPhone is better than Android. I have seen other Android phones that I like more than the Droid X, put it that way.

Hill: Buy, sell or hold the likelihood that the iPhone will team up with Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) in 2011.

Pegoraro: That's a hold. I know the engineering logic behind it, Verizon moving to a new network standard. I will not be surprised if it happens in 2011, but I can't ignore the fact that every prediction so far of a Verizon iPhone has been wrong, so I could say "buy," but don't blame me if you lose your shirt.

Hill: This was once a red-hot stock, but increasingly we are seeing this technology in smartphones and mobile devices. Buy, sell or hold the future of Garmin (Nasdaq: GRMN  ) and its GPS.

Pegoraro: Oh, sell. I don't see why. The first time I tried the navigation, turn-by-turn navigation on the Droid I thought, yeah, I could buy a GPS. Especially once you figure out a way to cache some of that information on the phone so you don't need to have a live Internet connection. Why would I pay for a separate device that I need to remember to bring along and recharge? Just get a car charger for your smartphone and a little dashboard mount and off you go.

Hill: In an interview with the British Newspaper The Daily Mirror, Prince said that the Internet was "completely over … I don't see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else." He also went on to compare the Internet to MTV, so buy, sell or hold Prince?

Pegoraro: I would buy Prince just because we need wacky people. I believe he is wrong in this particular technological analysis, but I do like his music. I guess I just won't be able to listen to the music on this new CD unless somebody illegally posts it on the Internet. Maybe he will reconsider that.

Hill: So you are buying Prince the musician and not Prince the technology prognosticator?

Pegoraro: I won't interview him for my next story. (laughs) Prince, no.

Hill: And finally, you and your lovely wife are expecting your first child any day now, so buy, sell or hold the likelihood that on your child's tenth birthday your newspaper, The Washington Post, will still be available in print?

Pegoraro: Buy. But you didn't ask what state. Will it be a weekly edition? Will it be much thinner? Who's to say on that? We'll have to see. Even the newspapers that already have gone all digital, like The Christian Science Monitor, they still have a print presence. US News and World Report, they have a print presence, it is just sort of, these publications, they have shifted to keeping to printing the things that have some kind of "keep around the coffee table" value. If you ask 15 years from now, I might have a different answer.

Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selections. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Chris and Mac do not own shares of any of the companies listed. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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