Only four months ago, Apple stock eclipsed $700 in the days leading up to the release of the iPhone 5. But this week those same shares dipped below $500 for the first time in nearly a year. Not surprisingly, such fluctuation sent media and business experts into a tizzy trying to read the tea leaves about what Apple’s falling stock means moving forward.

“Analysts were all over the map trying to decipher what's really going on with the world's most valuable company, even as Apple faces intense competition from rivals like Samsung, which has taken the lead in the smartphone race,” Patrick May wrote Tuesday for the San Jose Mercury News. “As Apple prepares for its closely watched earnings report next week, many wonder what this steady decline might mean for both Apple's future and for the people who buy and sell its shares.”

Many critics are laying blame for falling Apple stock at the feet of Apple CEO Tim Cook. But as Dan Pallotta remarked in a Wednesday column for Bloomberg, Cook’s first years on the job actually aren’t so different from the initial output Steve Jobs produced when he re-ascended to the helm of Apple in 1997.

“So Tim Cook has not introduced any disruptive new products in his first year,” Pallotta wrote. “But bear in mind that four years elapsed from the time Steve Jobs took back the reins until the iPod was introduced. Six years elapsed between the introduction of the iPod and the iPhone. Six years without a disruption under Steve Jobs.”

In other Apple-related news, The Wall Street Journal’s Evan Ramstad wrote Friday about the very real threat South Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung poses to Apple’s dominance of the smartphone market: “Samsung (last year) passed Apple Inc. as the world's top seller of smartphones by units. While its product releases haven't sparked nearly the kind of fervor seen at Apple's iPhone launch events, Samsung is proving to be a formidable challenger at the top of the mobile-device market.”

Also, Mashable’s Seth Fiegerman reported Friday that former Vice President Al Gore — who sits on Apple’s Board of Directors — “exercised options to purchase 59,000 shares of Apple stock on Jan. 15 for the insanely low price of $7.475 a share. … Based on Apple's current share price of about $500, Gore effectively purchased $29.5 million worth of Apple stock for just $441,000.”

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at or 801-236-6051.