Tim Cook's Biggest Challenge At Apple Is Still To Come

Tim Cook

Photo: Asa Mathat | All Things Digital

Tim Cook has had a pretty good year so far.Apple has posted record profits under his leadership. Cook earned favourable reviews for his most extensive interview as CEO at AllThingsD’s big tech conference last month. And he has presided over two successful product launch events in 2012, including one earlier this week.

However, the biggest test for Cook really won’t come until later this year or next year, when the company eventually decides to launch a completely new product.

“He might get dinged if any updates to existing products are deemed not magical enough, like the next iPhone for example. but because it’s the next step in an existing product line, he won’t necessarily be blamed or get the credit for being the force behind those things,” said Charles Golvin, an analyst with Forrester Research. “He will be judged very, very differently on the launch of a new product category.”

According to Golvin, Cook will have a greater amount of ownership over any new product that the company launches under his leadership, for better or worse.

“Of course I’m referring to the TV in this case, because that’s the one that is most clearly and frequently speculated as the next place Apple is going to go,” Golvin said. “That seems to me like the most potentially fraught item on the list of things on which he will be evaluated.”

Golvin says the same would be true if Apple releases a smaller iPad, as this would essentially be a “new form factor” in an existing product line, and one which he would be held more accountable for.

If either of these products flop, Cook will be at risk of more blow back than he’s experienced as CEO so far.

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