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December 9, 2012

Why is Wall Street losing its appetite for Apple?

(Continued)

SAN FRANCISCO —

Even if it’s no longer the market leader, the iPhone remains hotter than ever. Based on figures released by wireless carrier AT&T earlier this week, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek predicts Apple will sell 53 million iPhones this quarter, primarily the newest model. That would be a more than 40 percent increase from Apple’s previous one-quarter record of 37 million iPhones set in the period covering last year’s holiday shopping season.

Theory: The Creativity Contraction

Hypothesis: Apple is running out of fresh ideas.

Since Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died 14 months ago after a long battle with cancer, the company has mostly been fine-tuning products that were created under his visionary leadership. The former CEO’s hand-picked successor, Tim Cook, is well-respected, but some investors are starting to wonder if Apple can conjure up another revolutionary product to catapult the company on another multiyear stretch of breakneck sales growth. Can Apple innovate like a hard-charging startup while maintaining its giant company stature?

Smartphones and tablets “are starting to become more like commodities,” Gillis said. “And how much upside is left if you are stuck in a commodities business? The question is: What is going to get Apple going again?"Most analysts believe Apple’s next breakthrough will be a television that shares the same operating system as the iPhone and iPad. An Apple TV would give the company a prized perch on the biggest screen in most households and open up an array of new business opportunities.

Jobs hinted that Apple had figured out how to produce a mesmerizing new TV during interviews he gave with his biographer, Walter Isaacson, before he died. That led many analysts to predict an “iTV” would come this year, only to be disappointed. Cook indicated Apple is still trying to develop the device during an interview that aired on NBC’s “Rock Center” Thursday night.

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