GO
Loading...

Apple looks an awful lot like Microsoft: Pro

Ben Reitzes of Barclays has been bullish on Apple for the past 10 years, but that changed Thursday.

The senior technology analyst at Barclays Capital downgraded the tech company to equal weight after keeping an overweight rating on it for a decade, saying that he "agonized" over the move.

During an interview on "Squawk on the Street," Reitzes said he made the call because most of Apple's new product lines—such as a much-anticipated smartwatch—seem designed only to help sell more iPhones.

As the tech industry shifts its emphasis from hardware and operating systems to cloud-based computing and multiplatform software, he added, Apple will be hard-pressed to continue increasing iPhone sales past 10 percent.

(Read more: 'Zero chance' for Apple-Tesla merger: Tech analyst)

"The market is going to move toward more social, cloud and messaging-type services where there's a potential that the actual smartphone itself could get hollowed out a little bit, and the operating system maybe even becomes a little less important," Reitzes said.

An Apple store in San Francisco
Getty Images
An Apple store in San Francisco

Apple shares will have a tough time breaking out of the high $500 range, he said, even with new product categories. The company's shares were down a bit more than 1 percent, to about $530, during the first half of Thursday's session.

"It's in a trading range, and it's all right to say that," Reitzes said, adding that Microsoft never got back to the point at which it hit its peak market cap and became the world's largest company toward the end of the tech bubble.

(Read more: Why Facebook valued WhatsApp at $16 billion)

"There's an analogy to Apple here," he said.

The move toward Web services from hardware was driven home Wednesday, when Facebook announced that it would pay $16 billion for the free messaging service WhatsApp.

Reitzes said he'd like to see Apple get into Web services and that he could re-evaluate his position if the company follows that path.

—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at @jmorganteen and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street."

Contact Technology

  • CNBC NEWSLETTERS

    Get the best of CNBC in your inbox

    To learn more about how we use your information,
    please read our Privacy Policy.
    › Learn More

Squawk Alley