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Apple is the next Microsoft, analyst says

Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes says he just doesn't see growth in Cupertino's future, whether it's from a watch or a TV.

Is this really Steve Ballmer? James Martin/CNET

The first time I ever talked to an analyst, she told me that I was perfectly sane, but merely needed a few hundred Prozac to lighten my burden.

This early, troubling experience has tended to color my encounters with the word "analyst."

However, in the venal world of money, every time an analyst speaks, numbers seem to twirl on Wall Street in nervous reaction.

I am surprised, therefore, that Wall Street and half of California didn't endure electrical faults on hearing that an analyst had declared Apple heading down Microsoft Way.

As Business Insider reports, Barclays' Ben Reitzes sniffed that Apple's shares were, you know, alright to have and to hold, but only if you're prepared for richer or poorer.

"Frankly, we just couldn't quite bring ourselves to use smart watches or TVs as reasons to raise numbers," he said. "Nor were we fully convinced that these products could move the needle like new categories did in the old days."

Ah, the old days. When iPods were exciting and Barclays was just a bank.

Reitzes, though, continued to make the one comparison that will energize the bile of many who believe Apple to be the way, the truth, and the life.

He said: "We look at a valuation analogy vs. Microsoft from 2000 to about 2010 and see no precedent that large-size tech companies simply start to broadly outperform again after a tough year or two if the law of large numbers is catching up to them and margins have peaked."

In essence, Apple is just like Microsoft, merely steps away from a flattened mediocrity, and ready to elect a hoodie-wearing cricket fan to the CEO's throne.

Reitzes might turn out to be right. It may well be that Apple slips into a fallow irrelevance, as other competitors (who?) stomp upon it with innovation (what innovation?).

Still, analysts make many predictions so that at least some of them might turn out to be right. Some analysts, I understand, even put their money on the very opposite side of where there mouth is. It's called being clever or something.

Your fickle is their normal.

Why, just two years ago, an analyst issued an upgrade note on Apple. He used phrases like "solid momentum," "pent-up demand" and "bloody hell, there's money to be made here."

Actually, I made the last one up.

What I'm not making up is that the optimistic analyst of 2012 was Barclays' Ben Reitzes.

Has it really all gone so wrong for Apple in these last two years?

One analyst says "perhaps." Another says "perhaps not."