Apple's Board Pressures Cook: Something Doesn't Add Up

TheStreet.com

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Apple has come under pressure from its investors, media, analysts and even some of its consumers about increasing innovation. Its board, however, is another story.

There have been recent reports that Apple's board is pressuring CEO Tim Cook to increase the pace of innovation, and get something out to the markets fast. It seems odd that Apple's board of directors would start to make a stir now when Apple is slated to launch a slew of new products, software and services starting in the next few months.

That is, unless Apple's board knows something we, the marketplace, doesn't know. Considering how tight of a ship Apple runs, that's a possibility, and one that has to be considered.

Apple could not be reached for comment for this story.

On Apple's fiscal second-quarter earnings call, Cook himself said Apple would be releasing new products soon. "Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can't wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014," Cook said on the call. "We continue to be very confident in our future product plans."

Cook presumably speaks to Apple's board of directors, seeing as he's on it. One would think that Apple's board, perhaps the most powerful in the country, with luminaries such as Al Gore, J. Crew CEO Micky Drexler, Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger, Art Levinson, William Campbell, Andrea Jung, and Dr. Ronald Sugar, might know something about what's in Apple's pipeline, and when it's coming.

Apple is expected to release a slate of new products in the coming months. That's likely led by the iPhone 5S, and perhaps a low-end iPhone, currently dubbed the iPhone 5C. Apple is also expected to refresh its iPad line, with new versions of the iPad and iPad mini slated for later this year.

There's also speculation that Apple will start selling an iWatch, though timing on that is less certain than the iPhone and iPad refreshes. Cook himself has said that Apple will move into new product categories. "We see great opportunities in front of us, particularly given the long-term prospects of the smartphone and tablet market, the strength of our incredible ecosystem, which we plan to continue to augment with new services, our plans for expanded distribution, and the potential of exciting new product categories," Cook said on Apple's fiscal second-quarter earnings call.

This comes as competition from other technology companies, notably Google , Samsung, and to a lesser extent, Microsoft , steps up.

Given all that, for Apple's board to start placing pressure on Cook now seems misguided. Yes, Apple's share price has dropped sharply this year, and especially since Apple release the iPhone 5 late in 2012. It's the board of directors' job to be the steward for shareholders and look out for their best interests.

To be clear though, Apple's share price hasn't suffered for lack of innovation, but for lack of perceived innovation, the breakthrough products that disrupt our notions of technology. On Wall Street, as in life, perception is reality until it isn't.

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There's a reason Apple's senior vice president of marketing Phil Schiller said at a developer conference "Can't innovate anymore, my ass." For better or for worse, it's because Apple, and most likely its board, knows what's coming.

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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