This has been a rough week for Apple (AAPL).
Less than 20 people showed up to purchase iPhones and iPads at a China Mobile store in Beijing Friday, reports The New York Times. Apple CEO Tim Cook was even on site to shake hands with customers and give away autographed iPhones, part of a promotion that marked the opening day of sales of China Mobile's 4G iPhone 5s and iPhone 5.
In the U.S., major Apple launches are celebrated by long lines of customers that can snake city streets for miles. Camping overnight at Apple stores has become a ritual for many Apple fans.
Investors greeted Apple's announcement last month that it had reached a deal with China Mobile, the world's largest phone carrier, with excitment. Analyst Brian Marshall told USA Today that even though the partnership was long in the making, "it's a big deal." Apple's market share in China recently dropped from 10% to 6% in the third quarter and the Cupertino, California-based company ranks fifth behind Samsung and three Chinese smartphone companies. Cook, who is eager to tap into China Mobile's 763 million customer base, acknowledged the deal's importance: "China is an extremely important market for Apple," he said.
Even as Apple attempts to attract a larger user base in the world's second largest economy, questions over the company's product line and overall direction were raised this week. Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson told CNBC on Wednesday that "the greatest innovation today is coming from Google (GOOG)." He lauded Google's acquistion of smart thermostat maker Nest, arguing that this "amazingly strong integrated strategy" will allow Google "to connect all of our devices, all of our lives, from our car, to our navigation system, to how our garage doors are going to open."
Has Apple really lost its "disruptive" edge?
"Apple can be very successful with the products they have," notes Yahoo Finance's Aaron Pressman in the video above. Don't forget that Apple "brought us the retina screen first and the incredible finger print sensor."
Google's approach has been to unveil its experiments in a very public way, Pressman adds. Google Glass and the company's self-driving cars have received a lot of attention, but their fair share of laughs too.
"Apple probably has prototypes like that but would never let them out in public," adds Pressman. "Apple would never be made fun of that way. Apple is innovating, but it's harder to see."
Last month Cook told employees in a leaked email that "We have a lot to look forward to in 2014, including some big plans that we think customers are going to love." In April he reassured analysts that "we’ve got really great stuff coming...across all of 2014."
Some of the new products Apple is rumored to be working on: a smartwatch, TV, a larger iPhone screen and a 12.9-inch iPad model.
Is the Apple board unhappy with Tim Cook's performance as CEO? Watch the video to find out!
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