Bottom Line: Time is quickly running out for Apple’s Cook to deliver

Oliver Smith
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JUST days after revealing its $3bn (£1.8bn) takeover of Beats Electronics, Apple chief executive Tim Cook will tonight announce a slew of new software updates that will set the technology giant’s direction for the coming year – but time is running out for Cook to deliver on his promises.

Last year the technology giant’s chief executive committed Apple to entering a new “product category” in 2014, and in April promised that Apple is “closer than it’s ever been” to releasing another revolutionary product to follow in the footsteps of the iPhone and iPad.

Tonight at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference Cook will likely refrain from any revolutionary hardware announcements, at what is traditionally a software-focused event.

So what we will see in San Francisco tonight is likely to be new iPhone software, iOS 8, focused around new health and smart-home applications and an updated desktop and laptop operating system, rather than Cook delivering on his hardware promises.

But as Apple races towards the halfway point of 2014, the stakes couldn’t be higher for Cook. Apple’s share price has risen 22 per cent since April, reaching heights last seen in October 2012, and as anticipation has grown, the growth story around Apple’s established iPhone and iPad businesses has been changing.

Apple’s iPhone division saw its revenue from handset sales rise just six per cent during the first quarter, down from 28 per cent growth during the same period in 2013, as the company is increasingly looking to Asia’s emerging middle classes to fuel growth outside of iPhone-saturated western markets.

The future of Apple’s iPad division looks even more uncertain as the device, which has defined the tablet category since 2010, saw its unit sales fall 16 per cent last quarter – in a tablet market that shrunk around five per cent worldwide as a whole.

“Later this year, we’ve got the best product pipeline that I’ve seen in my 25 years at Apple,” Apple senior vice president of software and services Eddy Cue said last week.

That’s a bold claim from a company that has launched a string of game changing and revolutionary products over the past few years.

While we probably won’t see this product pipeline revealed tonight, with just seven months left in 2014, all eyes will be fixed on Cook.

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