Little iPods may grow over the Apple tree

The Leckey File

Your Money

May 09, 2004|By Andrew Leckey | Andrew Leckey,Tribune Media Services

When I visited the Chicago Board of Trade with my high school economics class, my fellow students and I giggled about serious adults trading in something called pork bellies.

Today, we might giggle about Wall Street analysts making intense predictions about prospects for something equally silly-sounding called iPods. The mad dash to this colorful and tiny digital music player sent Apple Computer Inc. stock soaring, and the energized company now sells more of them than it does computers.

Problem is, when you're known for a hit product, you must avoid getting known for only that product. For example, Pfizer fought to avoid being known as the Viagra company because new competition was inevitable. And Apple only now has managed to branch out from being the Mac company.

On rare occasions, companies embrace the image of their best seller. Generic-sounding Consolidated Foods, for example, changed its corporate name to its mainstay product, Sara Lee. I boldly predict that coffeecake, like pork bellies but unlike eight-track tape players, will always attract buyers.

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