On October 23, 2001, Steve Jobs introduced the iPod. "With iPod, Apple has invented a whole new category of digital music player that lets you put your entire music collection in your pocket and listen to it wherever you go," he said. "With iPod, listening to music will never be the same again."
On January 9, 2007, the iPhone made its debut. "iPhone is a revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone," Jobs said. "We are all born with the ultimate pointing device -- our fingers -- and iPhone uses them to create the most revolutionary user interface since the mouse."
On January 27, 2010, the first iPad was shown to the world. "iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price," Jobs stated. "iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive, and fun way than ever before."
On October 23, 2013, Apple unveiled the iWatch. "iWatch is a revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other wearable device," Tim Cook said. "iWatch creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive, and fun way than ever before."
The iWatch, of course, has yet to be born. It remains shrouded in mystery, with daily rumors about its specs and reports that it will be unveiled within this year. Whether it's the iWatch, iTV, iGlass or some other product, Apple watchers are expecting another major hit that Cook could hyberbolize as magical, revolutionary, and defining a new category.
Following Apple's tradition of trying to surprise the world with its latest innovations, Cook isn't giving any clues as to what is the next product from Apple that you won't be able to live without. "Obviously we're looking at new categories, but we're not talking about that," he said at the company's annual shareholder meeting last month.
Over the last several months, Apple's share price has been tanking. The stock is down more than 37 percent in the last six months, down from a record high of $705.07. In part, that's a reflection of larger forces outside of Cook's control. Earlier today, legendary investor Warren Buffett noted that his own company, Berkshire Hathaway, "has gone down 50 percent four times in its history," adding that CEOs "can't run a business to push the stock price up on a daily basis." But the sharp decline also reflects investor angst about Apple's product pipeline and whether the post-Jobs management can still revolutionize a product category.
While Apple's business is still solid, and the company has an astounding $137 billion banked, investors and fans are looking for the next major disruptive product to issue forth from its secret laboratory. An upgrade to the iPhone or iPad in a highly competitive market isn't going to change public perceptions about Apple's future as the groundbreaking leader in making computing devices more usable by millions of mere mortals.
Cook maintains that no product will be released before its time. "The only thing we'll never do is make a crappy product," he said at the Goldman Sachs Technology conference last month. "That's the only religion that we have. We must do something bold, something ambitious, something great for the customers, and we sweat all of the details."
Apple allegedly has a team of 100 people led by design chief Jony Ive sweating the details on the iWatch. Perhaps even more are working on reinventing the TV-watching experience. The pressure is on to produce something bold and ambitious again, and in time for the fourth-quarter shopping season. If Cook and team can pull it off, they will continue to be heroes defying the odds. If not, people will start talking about the good old days when Jobs ran the show.