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8/9/2013
08:48 AM
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Apple Board 'Concerned' About Innovation Pace

Pressure mounts on Apple CEO Tim Cook to get some new products into the market.

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Apple's board of directors is not pleased with the pace of innovation at Apple, or, more accurately, the lack thereof. The company may have refreshed its laptop lineup several months ago, but it hasn't introduced any new revolutionary products since 2012. The lack of industry-leading smartphones, tablets and other hardware has given the board cause for concern.

Apple's board is filled with heavy hitters. Some of its members include Bill Campbell, chairman of Intuit; Millard Drexler from J. Crew; Robert Iger, CEO of Disney; and Al Gore, former VP of the United States. Fox Business correspondent Charlie Gasparino, who claims to have solid sources, reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook's job is not in jeopardy -- yet.

"What have they had lately?" posed Gasparino during his televised report. "They have had the iPad, they've had a few other things, but they don't have anything innovating from what came from Steve Jobs. And that concern is basically manifesting into pressure on Tim Cook to innovate -- do something fast."

[ Who is taking advantage of Apple's lack of innovation? Read Windows Phone 8 Seizes On iPhone Dry Spell. ]

Cook succeeded the late Steve Jobs as CEO two years ago, just before Jobs' death in October 2011. Many of the products released by Apple in 2012 were developed under Jobs' purview. The company released the iPhone 5, the iPad Mini, and the iPad 4 last fall. A new iMac followed at the end of 2012. Apple has not released any new tablets or phones for almost a year, and the dry spell has the board sitting restlessly.

Cook assured Apple investors that there are plenty of products in the pipeline for the fourth quarter and into 2014. The company is expected to introduce a new version of the iPhone 5, a less-expensive iPhone 5 variant, a new full-sized iPad and possibly a new iPad Mini. These new products cannot come soon enough. All these new i-devices will run a brand-new and fully refreshed version of iOS 7, which is a long-overdue rewrite of Apple's mobile platform. It may add new features and easier controls, but there's nothing truly innovative about it.

While Apple has gone through its long product drought, competitors have ramped up the innovation, especially in the smartphone space. HTC, LG, Motorola, Nokia and Samsung have all introduced class-leading smartphones that offer differentiated hardware and software experiences. They've also brought new tablets to the market that have challenged the iPad's dominance.

Apple's smartphone and tablet market share has sunk noticeably during the past six months. It doesn't help that Apple's stock has dropped from highs pushing $700 a year ago to about $460 today.

Apple's board of directors is right to be concerned. Cook may not be out of a job, but the board has certainly put him on notice. The question is, what is he (and Apple) doing behind the scenes to make sure Apple continues to be seen as a leading-edge company?

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we'll never know
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we'll never know,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/10/2013 | 5:46:07 PM
re: Apple Board 'Concerned' About Innovation Pace
Apple is to distracted at the upper levels with litigation that innovation takes back row.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
8/9/2013 | 9:50:16 PM
re: Apple Board 'Concerned' About Innovation Pace
I wonder what Apple could have come up with if it had spent all the money it has invested in patent battles and patent acquisition on research and development instead.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
8/9/2013 | 9:43:06 PM
re: Apple Board 'Concerned' About Innovation Pace
Yeah, it's funny that some companies are measured according to profit whereas Apple is measured by time between technological revolutions. When you make more money than Google and Microsoft combined, things can't be that bad.

It's not like any other company has come along and released something as disruptive as the iPhone or iPad. Forrester seems to think Google Glass will get there, but otherwise, nope.

Nonetheless, I think Apple has to feel some concern over its collapsing market share. When per-device margins are as high as they are for Apple, market share isn't necessarily a priority. But market share exerts influence on tangential factors, such as developer interest and the strength of the overall ecosystem. I don't think Apple is really losing ground in these areas, but if they continue to cede ground, they could start to slide.

That said, if more ground is ceded, I doubt it'll be this year. Apple's gonna sell a lot of iOS devices this fall, and almost all current users are going to upgrade to iOS 7. That practically guarantees a short-term surge. Matter really matters is what happens after the initial rush.
Cara Latham
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Cara Latham,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/9/2013 | 8:13:09 PM
re: Apple Board 'Concerned' About Innovation Pace
Jobs was definitely one-of-a-kind, and I think that anyone who could have succeeded him would have had tough shoes to fill. That said, if the board is really that concerned, perhaps a focus should be on hiring the right talent. If HTC, LG, Samsung and the rest of the competition can be innovative, so can Apple.
SJB Music
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SJB Music,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/9/2013 | 2:58:14 PM
re: Apple Board 'Concerned' About Innovation Pace
The Apple board (and this writer) need to quit listening to the idiots on the web writing about Apples lack of innovation and loss of direction. There are rarely updates of any kind which happen more often than once a year on a product (or even full product line). By the very admission here that it has been "almost a year" since an update to the iPhone, they're still completely on track as usual. It certainly doesn't qualify as a "long product drought". Just because there are now 37 sizes of Android phone available doesn't mean they are out-innovating Apple. Sheesh.
BrettB259
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BrettB259,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/9/2013 | 2:31:29 PM
re: Apple Board 'Concerned' About Innovation Pace
"...but it hasn't introduced any new revolutionary products since 2012..."

When did we get this idea in our heads that Apple was required to change the universe twice each year? No one can live up to that expectation!
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