When it comes to giant tech stocks, it seems there's hype you want to buy into and there's hype you don't.
Take Facebook. The promise of social media dominance morphing into a money machine was enough to spark a scramble for shares. Facebook duly become the first US firm to list with a market value of $US100 billion.
In the three months since its trading debut, though, Facebook shares have halved in value. A botched listing and suddenly public doubts about its profit prospects have doused investor euphoria.
With a temporary bar on employee share sales now lifted, insiders are now heading for the exits. Facebook director and one of its earliest backers Peter Thiel is among those cashing in, with news overnight that he had sold most of his stock and pocketed $US400 million.
By contrast, during the three months tech behemoth Apple has been delivering on its formidable hype.
The stock has climbed by more than a quarter since the Facebook listing, and by almost two-thirds in 2012, smashing the record overnight of the most valuable US stock of all time.
Apple, worth about $US623 billion ($595 billion), is roughly 13 times bigger than Facebook, with the gap likely to widen - provided the firm's highly anticipated iPhone 5 launch meets the admittedly overblown expectations.
Boom or bust?
On the face of it, both Apple and Facebook are so well known to consumers to be essentially ubiquitous brands.
So how is that one stock continues to fizz and the other fizzles?
One issue is that positive familiarity doesn't guarantee profitability, said Joseph Palmer & Sons director Alex Moffatt.
"Many people had an experience of the company through their use of Facebook so they assumed it had to be successful once it listed," Mr Moffatt said. “I don't think Facebook can deliver that growth whereas Apple has been a steadily performing company.”
Apple is not merely an upstart means of communication but also a manufacturer of a series of hit products dating back decades. The list ranges from the Apple IIe, one of the first, easy-to-use personal computers, to the iPod, iPhone and latterly, the iPad tablet computer.
By contrast, Facebook may well be approaching 1 billion users but still needs to demonstrate its popularity into profits - without overly harming its appeal.
The fact that Apple is largely known as a producer of goods rather than a service provider explains part of its relative success, so says one long-time technology insider, who asked not to be named.
“If you look at the contrast between the two, we perhaps don't value the intangible as much as the tangible, especially when it's new, interesting and innovative,” he said.
That said, Apple is increasingly reliant on the torrent of cash it generates from its iTunes and other services - money that in turn depends on continuing demand for its communication devices.
Momentum also counts for much of the divergence.
Facebook didn't help its cause by delivering a net loss of $US157 million for the June quarter - the first reporting period since its listing. Revenues totalled $1.18 billion.
By contrast, Apple raked in a gross profit of 44 cents in every dollar it turned over for the year to June. Net profit before extraordinary items topped $US40 billion of sales of just under $US149 billion, according to Bloomberg data.
Estimates for the 2013 financial year tip $US50 billion on Apple sales of $US192.4 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Worth a tad over $US623 billion, Apple is now more valuable than Microsoft at the height of the hi-tech bubble in 1999. Analysts now pencil values of $US800 billion or even $US1 trillion for Apple. Consumers' reaction to the iPhone 5 release, expected on September 12, will determine if such targets are feasible in the near-term or the creation of overhyped expectations.
While Facebook and Apple's apparent divergent fortunes make for a neat comparison, Facebook's dismal debut as a listed company stands in perhaps starker contrast with Google's.
As with Facebook, Google is largely a provider of "intangible" if highly popular services.
Since Facebook's launch, Google shares have risen a respectable 8.6 per cent to give the search engine giant a market value of almost $US222 billion.
Google boasts a gross profit margin of 63 per cent on annual sales of $US43 billion, and a net profit of $US11.1 billion, according to Bloomberg data.
If Facebook can emulate some of Google's growth trajectory since the latter's share listing in August 2004, the Mark Zuckerberg-led upstart may yet turn into a money-maker for investors soured by the journey so far.
Over those eight years, Google shares have soared more than six-fold - a tidy return when compared with the meagre 34 per cent gain for the S&P info tech sub-index. Apple's advance, though, is about 15 times over that period.
While Google's rise and rise may give Facebook shareholders some heart, a comparison of the performance of the first three months provides a sobering contrast: Facebook shares have lost half their value while at a similar point of three months in, Google investors had doubled their money.