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Apple Ain't The Beatles

By Rick Munarriz - Updated Apr 5, 2017 at 8:04PM

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If Apple is a band, it's probably not The Beatles. Sorry. Aim lower. A lot lower.

Round three, anyone?

I ruffled some feathers earlier this week when I pointed out how Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) arrogance in the face of success reminds me of Iomega circa 1995.

Tim Beyers quickly countered, suggesting that unlike Iomega with its once revolutionary Zip storage, Apple is no one-hit wonder.

"Comparing Apple to the no-longer-independent Iomega is like comparing The Beatles to A Flock of Seagulls, or Men Without Hats," he writes.

Apple is cool. Apple is great. Apple is most certainly not The Beatles. Why would my friend Tim compare Apple to one of the few bands that refuse to have their songs sold through iTunes? The Liverpool rockers even sued Apple over its very name when it began to make inroads into music. That trademark infringement lawsuit was finally settled last year.

The Beatles are the best-selling band of all-time. Is that really Apple? Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) has a much wider smartphone base than Apple's iPhone. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) and Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) have larger PC bases. Apple is the top dog with its iPod, but what does that mean exactly? If it's the undisputed leader in portable media players, doesn't it just make it the new Sony (NYSE:SNE) as the heir apparent to the Walkman? Yes, the stakes are substantially higher given Apple's iTunes ecosystem, but you're missing my point. Apple may be greater than Ringo, but it's not even close to The Beatles.

I can think of dozens of bands that would be a better fit for Apple.

Let's start with The Police. Like Apple, they came together in the 1970s, rose to fame in the 1980s, and sort of disappeared in the 1990s before coming back together to rock again on this side of the millennium. Either way, they both end with a Sting.

A better fit? Van Halen. Not only is it a similar rise and fall timeline to The Police and Apple, but this band also booted its lead singer before welcoming him back lately for a series of sold out shows. Yes, I just compared Steve Jobs to David Lee Roth. Live with it, Tim.

I still think that Apple's biggest problem -- if I can keep rocking and rolling with the musical metaphors -- is that it's going through that awkward phase of going from a niche band with a cult following to a mainstream headliner.

Everyone loved Apple when it was Phish. The tastemaker critics loved Apple when it was Radiohead, Beck, or Modest Mouse. How will they feel now that Apple has no choice but to sell out to reach the masses? How will those same fan boys feel when they wake up one day to find that Apple is The Jonas Brothers?

Can't you see it happening already? The fact that Apple Stores are perpetually crowded should irk old-school Apple fans. Apple slashing iPod prices into the double-digits -- and laptops into the triple-digits -- are just a sign of things to come.

Yes, folks. The Jonasization of Apple is already happening. Swoon, pre-teen girls. Swoon.

Some other rockin' reads for you:

OK. Your turn. Roll up your sleeves, work your way to the comment box below, and let me know what musical artist you would compare Apple to these days.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz did catch Van Halen when it toured with David Lee Roth earlier this year. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

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