If your company has been going up against Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) in the smartphone, tablet PC, or digital music player markets, be very afraid. Apple's return salvo may catch you completely by surprise.
The company has been too quiet recently. Ominously quiet. The silence can only mean one thing: Apple will come out soon with another major product line that will redefine its market segment. That's my prediction. How do I know? Apple's late founder, chairman and CEO Steve Jobs promised the company will be rolling out some extraordinary breakthrough technologies in the near future. I believe the process of rolling out the next product from Apple is peaking currently and we should see something compelling from the company within months.
In order to continue pacing the competition, Apple has to keep its innovation engine humming. Jobs's demise is unlikely to hamper this, at least not in the short term. All indications are that the company had a batch of products it was working on before his death. Speculations within the industry include an update to the Apple TV box -- some say it might be a conventional TV-support product (miniaturized) with video streaming capabilities. I believe Apple will probably unveil a new device that will unsettle many and redefine the video entertainment industry. It will definitely combine the best of Apple hardware and software with industry content.
I am fascinated with the growing speculations in the industry about the next products Apple might introduce for entertainment. These include a Siri or voice-controlled HDTV, an Apple iTV that transforms the television experience -- one that an analyst believes the industry isn't quite prepared for, or a direct invasion of the publishing and educational books market.
We may only speculate on what Apple has in mind next, but we can also be certain it won't be another humdrum product. The company's future hangs on its ability to wow the consumer market, repeatedly -- and failure to excite customers and intimidate the competition could hurt its huge capitalization. Already, some folks are speculating the competition is responding faster and more nimbly to Apple's design edge and may even be catching up in certain areas. (See: Is Apple Losing Its 'Cool' Design Edge?.)
I give Apple credit for sparking growth in the music player, smartphone, and tablet PC markets, but expectations for the company have become so high only Apple can beat itself. Rivals like Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) have learned to make incremental improvements to their products, sneaking in quick and numerous updates while Apple sticks to its schedule of about every six months or so for new product introduction.
Plus, too many companies (Google, HTC, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, and Samsung) have been ganging up on Apple recently, and the gradual turf encroachment by these rivals must be ticking off somebody at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, Calif. Quite naturally, Apple must fight back and it will do so in typical Apple style with a shockingly simple-to-use product that redefines a specific market sector. If Apple nails it, the already stratospherically high share price will climb even higher, ending temporarily concerns the absence of Jobs may dim investor passion.
There's another reason why Apple has to strike back with a new product that is both unique and market-defining. CEO Timothy Cook has to prove the company can continue to function at the highest level without the guiding hands of Steve Jobs. It's universally acknowledged Jobs left a vacuum few can successfully fill, but Cook, who seems to have performed extremely well during his former boss's medical hiatus in the past, must now be his own man.
He must do it with the outstanding results Jobs got while he was around, but with the Cook imprint. I believe he is up to it.