Apple’s New CEO Faces Challenges

Apple appointed Tim Cook as the company’s new CEO, as it looks to move forward following Steve Job’s resignation.

Apple’s board made the decision to name Cook yesterday, after he was strongly recommended by Steve Jobs. Cook has already filled in as CEO for Jobs three times, once in 2004 when Jobs was recovering from surgery, a second in 2009 during Jobs’ six-month medical leave, and again early this year.

Cook has been left with big shoes to fill, despite being with the company for more than 10 years. Even though Cook is experienced, many analysts feel it is impossible for Apple to maintain the unprecedented level of success it reached under Jobs.

Cook will likely build on Apple’s success, but he faces emerging challenges as Apple opens up its next chapter.

While Cook’s peers have touted him as an excellent decision maker and he has promised Apple will not change its culture, it remains to be seen whether he can provide Apple with the same visionary type work as Jobs, who brought a strong design sense and attention to detail to products like the iPhone and iPad.

Much of Apple’s roadmap for the next five years has already been set in motion, but the company may miss Jobs’ personality with Cook at the helm. Jobs unveiled most new products himself and made his mark clear on each one of them, becoming a cultural icon in his own right.

Cook is reportedly much less of a showman, leaving analysts to believe that while business may continue to run smoothly, Apple may have lost its face and public character.

Aside from trying to fill Jobs’ public persona, Cook will also face the challenge of increased competition. While the iPhone and iPad were innovative devices at the time of their release, other companies have since sought to outdo Apple’s creations.

Google’s Android OS has surpassed the iPhone in smartphone market share, and Android-powered devices like the Samsung Galaxy Tab are gaining traction in the tablet market. Apple will have to continue to innovate to stay on top, and while the company has a strong roadmap to follow that likely bears Jobs’ input, how it responds and innovates to unexpected challenges remains to be seen.

Another issue Cook will have to deal with is how to expand into emerging markets. If Apple wants to compete in the battle for worldwide smartphone market share, the company may need to establish more of a presence in China and India.

The company has taken its first steps by brokering deals to bring the iPhone to China, but if Cook can’t find a way to successfully bring the iPhone to these countries and slow Android’s growth, he’ll likely be criticised for letting the company slip under his watch.

Cook appears to be the most qualified man to take over as Apple’s CEO, but it’s unlikely anyone can follow Steve Jobs without inviting industry-wide scrutiny and apprehension. Cook may not be responsible for the iPod, iPhone or iPad, but he comes with the highest of recommendations from the man who was.

This post originally appeared at Mobiledia.

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