It looks like 2016 may either mark the beginning of Apple’s decline, or maybe it only marks a reset of an overly successful 2015. The question that always troubles the investor community, of course, is whether Apple can keep up the pace of innovation ‘demanded’ by Steve Jobs.
Nothing seems to be able to replace the stability of the iPhone in Apple’s recent growth. But now that most competition has caught up, perhaps we have to look at the pace of innovation in the iPhone to see if that caused the first time dip.
At the beginning of the year, the money Apple generated from iPhone sales dipped for the first time in recent memory. And although Apple has a large portfolio of products that support its success as one of the most valuable companies in the world, most experts agree that its primary driver for that growth has always been the iPhone. Every year, Apple has been able to come out with a newer and better iPhone. In turn, that introduction has been able to tap into an insane amount of consumer demand, which then created a blowout performance, as well as set the stage for the next iteration.
Then, 2016 happened. With the iPhone 6s being largely a modest iteration of the iPhone 6, and with the demand for a larger phone from Apple finally satisfied in the marketplace, the company essentially entered a holding pattern for the year until its next iPhone came out. The iPhone 7, of course, came as expected — but it remains to be seen as to whether it’ll be a breakout success as much as the iPhone 6 was when it was introduced.
So back to the question that perplexes investors: Knowing that the lead time for development of new products can lead actual product introduction in the market by 3-5 years, has Apple lost its ability to innovate without the influence of Steve Jobs on its development team?