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."
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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