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Apple CEO Teases Product Shakeup In 2014

CEO Tim Cook's letter to employees thanked them for their hard work and suggested that the company has big changes planned for its product lines.

Apple Mac Pro: 9 Ways It Wows
Apple Mac Pro: 9 Ways It Wows
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Apple CEO Tim Cook knows how to take advantage of a slow news cycle. As the holiday week kicks off, he sent a letter to Apple employees reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the next. Though much of the letter summarizes the company's accomplishments in 2013, it drops one big bomb ahead of 2014 that is sure to kick off a firestorm of rumor-mongering.

The letter, published in full by 9to5Mac, offers some insight into Cook's thinking and what he considers to be important to Apple. Among the successes listed by Cook are the company's launch of the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, iPad Mini with Retina Display, and Mac Pro. He also speaks highly of the company's efforts to get iOS 7 out the door, as well as OS 10.9 Mavericks (for free), and the company's 50 billionth app download from iTunes.

Further, Apple donated tens of millions of dollars to charity, including the Red Cross and (Product)Red projects; asked Congress to support workplace protections against sexual orientation and gender-based discrimination; and contributed heavily to several environmental initiatives.

All notable achievements, no doubt. Let's not forget that the company made billions of dollars in profits, too.

[More profits ahead? See China Mobile Agrees To Sell iPhone.]

Cook concludes by saying: "We have a lot to look forward to in 2014, including some big plans that we think customers are going to love. I am extremely proud to stand alongside you as we put innovation to work serving humankind's deepest values and highest aspirations. I consider myself the luckiest person in the world for the opportunity to work at this amazing company with all of you."

Some "big plans that we think customers are going to love," eh? What on earth could Cook be speaking about?

Apple watchers anticipate the company will introduce several new products in the year ahead. For example, Apple has been testing iPhones and iPads with different screen sizes. The company may debut an iPhone with a screen ranging between 5 and 6 inches, and a new iPad with a screen as large as 13 inches. The iPad Pro, as it is being called, might show up sooner rather than later, and could help Apple fend off some of the larger Windows 8 convertibles in the enterprise market.

Can't wait for 2014? See 10 Best Tablets Of 2013
Can't wait for 2014? See 10 Best Tablets Of 2013

Further, the company is widely expected to debut a smartwatch -- affectionately called the iWatch -- at some point during 2014. How the iWatch will differ from devices such as Samsung's Galaxy Gear, the Pebble, Qualcomm Toq, or Sony SmartWatch 2 is still anyone's guess. These are the big ones, but some still expect Apple to deliver an Apple TV that actually includes a TV, and other projects.

Whatever Apple has in store for 2014, there's no doubt that it will set the tone for Cook's tenure as CEO. The year 2013 was extraordinarily quiet for Apple, which released no new products during the first eight months of the year. If the company waits until the third or fourth quarter to launch all its new products again, investors -- and consumers -- may not be so happy.

Eric Zeman is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies.

Too many companies treat digital and mobile strategies as pet projects. Here are four ideas to shake up your company. Also in the Digital Disruption issue of InformationWeek: Six enduring truths about selecting enterprise software. (Free registration required.)

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User Rank: Strategist
12/23/2013 | 12:28:19 PM
Good news. Time to play catch up with the Windows 8 touch screen and Android world.
Shane M. O'Neill
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
12/23/2013 | 1:49:13 PM
Apple comes out swining in 2014
The time is getting ripe for an iWatch. Samsung rushed the Galaxy Gear watch to market and it has been a disappointment. Apple could swoop in with an iWatch and say "This is how it's really done." And you won't see them wait 8 months to release a product like they did this year. This was a rebuilding year. 2014 will be an aggressive year for Cook and company. Been quiet for too long.
User Rank: Apprentice
12/23/2013 | 1:54:47 PM
Because humanity's deepest desire is a new screen size...
iHyperbole at it's finest.
User Rank: Apprentice
12/23/2013 | 2:46:43 PM
Apple CEO Teases Product Shakeup In 2014

Thank you for the post.  Shake-up is what I've been hearing for a few months.  What concerns me in this shake-up is the continued lack of transparency that Tim Cook provides; the shareholders meeting was vague like a milkshake.  If you recall, Cook mentioned before the last shareholder's meet that Apple was bring manufacturing back to the USA.  Well, I asked for several key questions:

1. How many employees would be insourced from other countries?  Because paychecks would then be sent back oversees to dear family members rather than banked and spent in the USA.

2. Since it's a brand new division, how many women would be in management positions; would this be in equal proportion to the demographics of their customers?  This is a chance to do something great for American families by boosting total household income.

:to be answered by his office, then when I heard nothing, opted to get Women in Technology involved.  The head of - started to - but was shut down by her own organization because, I suspect, Apple is a huge sponsor.  WiTi must have chosen money over their overall mission; did they?

At the shareholder meeting, questions were asked, and Cook chose to focus on a customer Bathroom being installed in the Santa Monica retail store - 15 minutes out of an hour or so meeting.  Then Cook spent 20 minutes answering a quesiton on products, without ever answering the question.    

iPads and iPhones with different screen sizes does concern me, if they plan on increasing SKUs.  Qualcomm has Mirasol butterfly-effect screen for outdoors, add a ruggedized or waterproof case... interesting.
User Rank: Apprentice
12/23/2013 | 2:47:34 PM
The Need to Go Bigger in 2014
I think 2013 was an adequate year for Apple in terms of products.

Solid products but more evolutionary.

They will need to get more aggressive in 2014 to keep their innovation image from tarnishing more. I have yet to see products that are of a new class.

Kevin DouglasB369
Kevin DouglasB369,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/23/2013 | 3:00:08 PM
Re: Time
how about the Ihavehadenough lol 
User Rank: Apprentice
12/23/2013 | 3:06:10 PM
Re: Time
Catch up? Everyone is *chasing* Apple, not the other way around.
User Rank: Apprentice
12/23/2013 | 3:15:43 PM
Re: Time
Yeah...That Windows 8 sure has me envious...NOT!
User Rank: Apprentice
12/23/2013 | 5:06:10 PM
Big Picture
Apple has never been a market micromanager.  They are a big picture company, and generally don't give in to the day-to-day pressures.  They are always more focused on making the best overall product, not the one with the most bells and whistles...this goes back through the pre-iPod, iPhone, & iPad Mac vs Windows days.

If you look at expectations, the public is simply delusional.  While Samsung and other manufacturers may make day-to-day advancements in small areas (more megapixels, better social media integration, etc.), none have a product and eco-sphere nearly as reliable and user friendly as Apple.  Apple is ok with them focusing on the mintuae while they focus on the big picture.  Keep in mind, the success of Apple also opened the revenue streams for all their competition, and in some cases, made them relevant or saved them.

Here's where that comes into play.  The iPod was introduced around 2001.  The iPhone in 2007, and the iPad in 2010. In 9 years, Apple has managed to completely revolutionize, not just the electronics world, but the entire world 3 times over.  Think about this.  Then entire way we live our lives, multiple industries, and communictations have been completely altered by these 3 product releases. Cassettes & CD's gone - every record company altered - record/tape/CD stores gone -  Walkmans, other portable cassette/CD devices, and big headphones all gone.  That's just the beginning for iPod.  There's no need to get into everything else or the phone and tablet. 

Another revolution to consider is how they completely altered other companies (Samsung, Google, Sony, Nokia, Blackberry, etc.) or helped other companies/industries be created (docking stations, cases, stands, proliferation of the WiFi industry, etc.).

Now step back and look at it big picture, when in the history of mankind has one company completely altered the world 3 times in 9 years?  It is now 2014.  In previous releases, once every 3 years they have released a product that was, not just a game changer, but a history changer.  It has now been another 3 since the iPad.  I would look for these to be more than empty words.  They are right on target to continue their pattern.  If they don't release another revolutionary product in 2014 or 2015, I'll be the first to once again mourn the loss of Steve Jobs, as the revolution may have died with him.

Lets see...
User Rank: Apprentice
12/23/2013 | 11:24:50 PM
Give China customers a bigger Samsung - like screen and you''' get their market.
I just returned after 17 months living/working in China. The ONLY reason Chinese don't buy iPhones in BIG numbers is becasue the screen size is too smal - thats it. An iPhone "6" with a Samsung Note-like screen size wins you all of China handsdown.
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