Apple’s still feeling the love

Its stock price is on the skids. It just weathered an embarrassing assault from an uppity activist investor. It has stumbled as it tries to meet surging demand for some of its products. And, oh yeah. There was that little problem with its new Maps app.

Yet everybody still loves Apple.

For the sixth year, Fortune has chosen Apple as the world’s most admired company, beating out mere mortals like Google, IBM and Amazon.

What’s with this enduring love affair many have with the Cupertino tech giant?

As Fortune put it:

Apple has had a rough time lately with its stock price in a free fall and the widely publicized failure of its Maps feature. However, it remains a financial juggernaut, posting $13 billion in net income last quarter, making it the most profitable company in the world during that period. The company has its fanatical customer base, and it still refuses to compete on price, making the iconic iPhone and iPad products that are still widely seen as prestige devices. Competition may be stiff, but so far it remains behind: In Q4 2012, the iPhone 5 was the world’s best selling smartphone, followed in second place by the iPhone 4S.

Not too shabby a track record, even if its stock has been tanking from the record highs it posted last September. And as my former colleague and Fortune writer Adam Lashinsky put it:

For some, the news will come as a surprise. Headlines of late have tended to portend Apple’s demise, comparing the computer and mobile-gadget maker to Microsoft (the horror) and wondering whether Apple had lost its cool factor.

Perish the thought, he writes:

 For those expecting a fall from grace, Apple undoubtedly is a victim of its own success. [Steve] Jobs, a legend in his own time and the face of Apple, actively hid his managers from public view, preferring that they focus on work, not self-aggrandizement. What’s more, for a company that without hyperbole can be described as having released four revolutionary products in a decade — iTunes, iPod, iPhone, and iPad — expectations become exceedingly high.

Cook reaffirmed that sentiment during his remarks at this week’s shareholders meeting, when he said Apple would continue to strive primarily to create awesome products that dazzle consumers, even if rivals eat into Apple’s revenues. Writes Lashinsky:

 Three years have passed, making the company not yet overdue to issue its latest category-defining product, whatever that may be. The world expects miracles from Apple. So much so that the absence of one on a regular schedule spells doom to some. Mere mortals at companies that never have put a dent in the universe continue to admire Apple’s accomplishments.

And the love fest goes on.


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