You can't get into a fight with China.
That's what people are worried about with Apple (AAPL) today. They fear that this is stage one of Google (GOOG) vs. China and even though this patent dispute is not about censorship it is most certainly a genuine dispute.
We have all learned that the way to cap your growth is to be excluded by the world's largest growth market. Google's never been the same since it stood up to the Chinese.
What's so bothersome about this Apple tiff is that it's pretty clear that Apple can change the iPad name in China or pay off the respective disgruntled parties.
But it can't let this tiff escalate and run the risk of a loss of the market that is so important to first-quarter growth.
It's so easy to talk about island reversals -- the intraday reversal that Apple suffered yesterday -- or the possible negative rebalancing that the Nasdaq might do that would cause selling simply because Apple's become too big.
But the simple issue here is clear. Apple plays ball or the growth rate comes down because of a loss of China and growth rate declines are not tolerable in a momentum stock like this one.
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