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Apple CEO Tim Cook is smart, thoughtful, and deliberate, as is clear in all his public appearances. Too deliberate, perhaps, according Apple’s board.
The board, which includes luminaries like Al Gore, former vice-president of the United States, Bill Campbell, chairman of Intuit, Robert Iger, CEO of Disney, and MIllard Drexler of J. Crew, is concerned about Apple’s lack of recent innovation.
At least, its lack of visible innovation.
According to a Fox Business report, the directors are finally speaking up after Apple has frittered away its once-massive iPhone market share, seen its tablet market share chopped in half, and seen its stock slump from a high of $700 last year to its current $461, shaving off hundreds of billions in company value.
Cook’s job is not at risk, but the board is worried, Fox correspondent Charlie Gasparino claimed, saying his sources were solid.
Above: Android is eating Apple’s lunch
“What have they had lately? 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,” Gasparino said. “And that concern is basically manifesting into pressure on Tim Cook to innovate — do something fast.”
Tim Cook said at Apple’s recent earnings call that plenty of innovation is coming this fall and winter, and that likely includes the iPhone 5S, the cheaper plastic-backed iPhone 5C, and new iPads.
But the company also reported significant declines in international market share and relied on stronger-than-expected iPhone sales in the U.S. to avoid a major quarterly meltdown. The problem is that most smartphone sales are not in the U.S. — the international leader is China, which bought more than twice as many smartphones as the U.S. last quarter. And in China, where iPhones are simply too expensive and Apple has failed to cut a deal with the 700-million subscriber telecom giant China Mobile, Apple is a pathetic seventh in market share.
“The pressure is really on these CEOs to constantly perform,” Gasparino said. “Every time I hear ‘the board is concerned,’ it’s always the starting point for ‘Is this the right guy for the job?'”
Cook’s job isn’t in danger right now. But he didn’t do himself any favors at all by deciding — and announcing — that Apple would release no new products this summer.
Meanwhile, Google and its army of Android partners — led by Samsung, of course — have taken over 80 percent of the global smartphone market. And the legacy that Steve Jobs built of an almost impregnable company with massive domination of mobile markets is in jeopardy of losing its position.
It certainly has already lost its do-no-wrong mantle.
The question is: Can Cook — and Apple — turn it around? And how long will the board give him?