While Manchester United is struggling to replace an iconic leader, Apple is having no such problems. Any concerns that the firm was on the wane were banished in the firm's latest earnings announcement.
Tim Cook must have felt life was rosy on Wednesday evening when Apple announced profits of more than $10bn, up from the same period last year, led by massive sales of over 40 million iPhones in the quarter.
With the firm raking in the cash, Cook also authorised an increase in the firm's capital return programme from $60bn to $90bn, which certainly pleased activist investor Carl Icahn.
Agree completely with $AAPL's increased buyback and extremely pleased with results. Believe we’ll also be happy when we see new products.— Carl Icahn (@Carl_C_Icahn) April 23, 2014
Icahn's second comment is the key, though. While Apple has wowed the market again, and the results show that its current product range is still doing the business, this cannot last forever.
For months, if not years, rumours have persisted of all kinds of wonderful Apple products: iWatches, TVs, and who knows what else. To date, though, nothing much has happened.
Instead, Apple has refined and remodelled its existing devices and continues to generate huge revenues as a result. Cook himself was keen to underline that rushing new devices to market has never been Apple's style, with justification.
“We didn't ship the first MP3 player, nor the first smartphone, nor the first tablet," he said on an earnings call to discuss the results. "In fact, there were tablets being shipped a decade or so before then, but arguably, we shipped the first successful modern tablet and the first successful modern smartphone and the first successful modern MP3 player. So it means much more to us to get it right than to be first."
While Cook may be able to point to the best track record of any tech company to prove that this strategy pays off, the world and his dog expect more, as Icahn's Twitter post demonstrates.
Cook did hint that more is to come, but was coy on any specifics: “We’re eagerly looking forward to introducing more new products and services that only Apple could bring to market.”
However, while new product categories may not have appeared over the past few years, new innovations certainly have, with tools such as Siri and its Touch ID fingerprint scanner being aped by rivals such as Microsoft and Samsung.
Both these innovations came from acquisitions the company had made, such as German firm Authentec, and Cook revealed in the call that the firm continues to pick up firms that could help Apple once again innovate.
“From an acquisition point of view, we have done 24 in 18 months. That shows that we're on the prowl, I suppose you could say. We look for companies that have great people and great technology and that fit culturally,” he said.
Of course, for Cook and his cohorts, the current focus will be on the next iPhone, the iPhone 6, and based on this trend it would not be surprising if the phone features another market-leading innovation that rivals rush to emulate.
If so, and if the device rakes in the sorts of sales that its predecessors have enjoyed, Apple may be able to hold off on any new products for a little while longer, and keep its investors happy.
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