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What’s driving Apple anxiety: ‘There have been no gee-whiz products in the Cook era’

May 7th, 2013 at 10:20 AM
Apple Innovation Criticism

Given its history over the past decade, it’s easy to see why investors have come to expect Apple to turn the whole tech market on its head every few years — after all, the iPhone, the MacBook Air and the iPad all respectively created mass markets for smartphones, ultrabooks and tablets. Many of these game-changing innovations are credited to the vision of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, whose passing in 2011 has created a sense of anxiety among some investors that the company has lost its innovative edge under the leadership of CEO Tim Cook. And given how quiet Apple has been in the first half of 2013 so far, speculative fears about the company’s ability to innovate have only grown in recent months.

Per Barron’s, UBS analyst Steve Milunovich has issued a research note that gives voice to this anxiety by stating bluntly that “there have been no gee-whiz products yet in the Cook era,” thus raising concerns over whether Jobs built “an innovative company or a company around his innovations.” Milunovich goes on to say that he believes Jobs left considerable infrastructure at Apple to foster innovation including “product plans for at least the next 2-3 years” and “Apple University, which is aimed at helping employees understand the company’s decision-making process with an emphasis on mistakes.”

Milunovich also thinks that having divisions based on functions and not on product types has helped foster a culture of encouraging cooperation at Apple that will be able to churn out innovative products even without a charismatic, visionary leader pulling the strings. The bottom line, says Milunovich, is that it’s “premature to conclude that Apple can’t innovate anymore.”

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