apple-logo1On September 18, 2012, things were looking pretty good for Apple. With the impending release of the iPhone 5, the most valuable company in the world had their stock hit $700 per share and the future was seemingly bright. Six short months later, however, Apple’s outlook is rather cloudy with stock prices threatening to go below $400 for the first time since December 2011. So what has caused this minor panic about a brand that could do no wrong and what can Apple do to fix it?

According to a recent article in Forbes, five important things are driving Apple’s downturn:

  1. Apple hasn’t launched a new product since the iPad three years ago.
  2. The iPhone is Apple’s main money generator, netting half their profits. However, Samsung shot past Apple in the third quarter of 2012 and now boasts the world’s largest-selling Smartphone.
  3. Apple started offering multiple products within the same line (iPad v. iPad mini). As odd as it sounds, Apple consumers have been trained to purchase the only offering available, with just simple changeable attributes (color and storage size) … not choosing between similar products with different sizes and unique features.
  4. As many wondered upon the death of Steve Jobs, could Tim Cook fill his shoes? With the disastrous failure of Apple maps and a couple big leadership exits, one has to question Cook’s ability to keep Apple on its upward trajectory.
  5. Finally, while Apple dominates the SmartPhone market in the United States and Europe, they are being crushed in other huge mobile markets like India and China. How can they increase market share, if they can’t compete in emerging markets?

As the foremost innovators in the Smartphone industry, I firmly believe Apple has the ability to fix the issues holding them back in this market. They will continue their dominance in English-speaking countries and build enough of a presence in Samsung-dominated markets to stay both relevant and profitable.

However, when it comes to my confidence in Apple being able to revolutionize an industry with a product so imaginative and life-altering, you can’t help but purchase it … well, I have my doubts. And this is where Apple desperately misses Steve Jobs and why I think they’re going to struggle to continue their unprecedented reign of greatness.

As I said back in July of 2011, “If Jobs were to leave Apple entirely, it would be a crushing blow to a company that has quickly become the agent of change for evolving technology … leaders like Jobs are nearly impossible to replace. Look no further than Apple’s biggest competitor, Microsoft. When Bill Gates worked his last full-time day in June of 2008, the computer giant was never the same.”

While Tim Cook has filled in admirably and is regarded as an “operational genius,” he is not a technological visionary and leader able to mold his employees into catalysts of game-changing innovation. But let’s say I’m wrong and Mr. Cook has a rabbit or two he can pull from his hat. What might Apple be tinkering with that could send their stock soaring once again?

The most commonly discussed new offering is the Apple iTV. Apple has been rumored to be entering this industry for ages and finally appears set to make an official announcement soon. The Christian Science Monitor just released details on a few specifics of the iTV. The 60-inch television will reportedly cost between $1,500 – $2,000 and include tablet-like mini iTVs that sync with the larger iTV. It would most likely hit stores in late 2013.

This certainly has huge potential for Apple, but they’re entering a space dominated by Samsung and LG, with Google and Intel also firmly in the mix. And Samsung certainly isn’t scared. As Chris Moseley, AV Product Marketing Manager, stated, “We’ve not seen what they’ve done but what we can say is that they don’t have 10,000 people in R&D in the vision category.”

Another possibility a lot of tech geeks are amped up about is the iWatch. It basically would be a scaled-down iPhone on your wrist. It certainly sounds intriguing and Apple does have a patent out for a wearable accessory device, but at this point the unconfirmed iWatch just might be a fantasy. But if it’s not, someone else beat them to market!

Successful Kickstarter company, Pebble, just released their version of a Smartwatch that works with both Apple and Android technology. It provides excellent apps for messaging and music, among others, and boasts an impressive, dare I say, Apple-like interface. If Pebble takes off, Apple will be incredibly late to the party.

While both the iTV and iWatch sound interesting, they don’t quite turn an industry on its head like the iPhone or iPad did. What they need is something overly ambitious and perhaps even a little wacky. How about the iRobot? Business Insider reports Apple just hired Yale’s “robotic whiz,” John Morrell. A former lead engineer for Segway, Morell brings his working knowledge of basic manipulation tasks for robots, like opening doors.

Perhaps Rosie the Robot from The Jetsons isn’t that far-fetched after all?