There has been a lot of Apple talk in the news lately. It goes back to their earnings report from a few weeks ago. iPhone sales (Apple’s biggest profit driver) were down, as were Mac sales, and iPad sales. Their stock closed at 92.72 on Friday, close to their 52 week low. Interestingly enough, the price of AAPL was $92.70 immediately after their mid-2014 7-for-1 stock split. Given all of the bad news, Apple is still a remarkably profitable company. However, I have seen some cracks in the armor in the way the tech press has covered them. Three of the leading Apple-centric publications are iMore.com,daringfireball.com, and Macobserver.com. These sites, along with a couple of others, often get exclusive scoops on Apple-related news. This week I saw each of them post stories questioning Tim Cook’s leadership. These stories were not written by the lead writers. I think that was intentional, but the fact that these negative stores were allowed to run tells us something. The generally "Mac-blind", Apple fanatic audience is willing to think objectively.
Cook was hired as a senior sales executive from Compaq in 1998, soon after Jobs came back to Apple. He was part of their executive leadership team and served as the interim CEO during Jobs’ leaves of absence prior to his eventual passing. Throughout his time at Apple he has not been known as a visionary, but has been praised as an effective manager. Under his reigns, Apple has released one major product, the Apple Watch, and while it has arguably been the best selling smartwatch over the past year, many customers lament its lack of practical functionality. The Fit Bit bands and watch present a compelling alternative. However, criticism of Cook needs to be balanced with the fact that Apple plays in a mature industry. Think of the line of successful launches that came from Apple since 2001: the iPod in 2001, iTunes for Windows in 2003, the iPhone in 2007, and the iPad in 2010. Is there a next big thing? Apple has done well with the Apple TV (box) but it hasn’t approached the stratospheric levels as the aforementioned products and services. Macs don’t seem to be a priority at Apple anymore. Apple has made deep inroads into businesses, but mainly with the iPads and iPhones. Apple is expanding their service based revenue, with Apple Music. However, iCloud services lag far behind Google’s e-mail, contacts, calendar, and photo management.
If you were on Apple’s board, what would you recommend? Should Cook stay or go? What should Apple do next to provide maximum value for all stakeholders?