Apple Inc. (AAPL) Hurting Its Rep, Now a ‘Sinful’ Stock Play?

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) fought hard for success in its patent-infringement lawsuit against Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. in order to gain an upper hand in innovation among smartphones and tablets. But in the days since the victory was announced in a federal courtroom in California, it appears that the protection of patents might have cost Apple some of its loyal fan base, and has at leas tarnished the company’s reputation.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)

A couple of articles making the rounds Thursday morning discuss a seeming downgrade in public perception of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in the wake of its legal victory, in conjunction with the ardent loyalty of many Apple users – those who seems not happy with just a single device like an iPod, but instead seem to be “addicted” to having the latest and greatest devices Apple develops. In the first piece, the author conducted an analysis of social-media comments about Apple and Samsung both in the weeks during the trial and in the days following the verdict. What was found that a large percentage of comments were actually more negative toward Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) than positive, and even more negative comments against Apple than against Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., the loser in the patent verdict. The shift in the tone and the nature of the comments on social media regarding Apple was fascinating during the trial juxtaposed against the days after the verdict.

In another piece, the manager of the Vice Fund was questioned about whether Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) could be considered part of the fund as a “sin stock.” Investopedia has defined “sin stock” as “Stock from companies that are associated with (or are directly involved in) activities that are widely considered to be unethical or immoral.” One of the cases cited for Apple to be considered a “sin stock” was the company’s ongoing labor issues with Chinese manufacturer Foxconn, which was documented here previously.

Does Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) being considered “sinful” actually help its sales? Is it that which is considered “taboo” that actually makes people want it more? How much the reputation of Apple is tarnished will be a question that investors will be seeking to answer in the coming weeks – especially investors like hedge-fund manager Julian Robertson of Tiger Management.