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Is Tim Cook The New Steve Ballmer?

Louis Bedigian

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) CEO Tim Cook is often held in high regard, especially when compared to other executives. This includes former Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer, who was heavily criticized when he led the Windows maker.

After Monday's presentation at the Worldwide Developers Conference, some investors are starting to wonder if Apple's leader has adopted Ballmer's strategies.

"Is Tim Cook the new Steve Ballmer? That was my main takeaway from WWDC," Cody Willard, chairman of Scutify and Futr, told Benzinga. "All they did was copy a bunch of other successful products, and it sure looked like Microsoft in 1999 -- or 2005, for that matter. Social networking for music -- didn't Apple already do that with Ping?"

Willard said that Apple is supposed to be skating to where the puck is going, "not Steve Ballmer-like skating to where the puck used to be."

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Tomorrow's Follower

Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group, wasn't surprised by Apple's presentation, which included new OS X and iOS features that had previously appeared on Android and Windows.

"The thing is, Apple's always been more of a fast follower in many ways, except at the beginning," Enderle told Benzinga. "A lot of features that the Mac OS [has] kind of showed up on Windows first. And it goes back and forth."

Apple Music is seen by some as a me-too service following Spotify, but Microsoft was actually one of the first to launch a streaming service.

"Zune's killer feature was subscription music," said Enderle. "Steve Jobs argued that nobody in their right mind wanted subscription music -- they wanted to buy and own their music. Jobs always did that. Before they had video on the iPod, he argued, 'Who in their right mind would want video on their MP3 player?'"

Mimicry is a big part of the industry, however. Enderle said that if Apple does something first, Google Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Microsoft will copy the resulting product, service or feature. If Google or Microsoft is first to market, Apple will be the one that comes off as a copycat.

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.

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