It’s hard not to get caught up in all of the excitement surrounding Apple. After all, the company is selling the world’s most popular mobile devices, Mac sales are on the rise, and some analysts believe its shares could eventually hit $1,000. From customers to executives to shareholders, just about everyone thinks that Apple has all of the major elements to continue its success well into the future.
But don’t allow the positivity to get in the way of reality. Apple might be performing exceedingly well in today’s technology space, but there are a host of issues it’s facing that could derail its chances of future success.
Some of those issues might not impact the company for years; others could rear their heads much sooner. In either case, Apple might not be as bulletproof as some would have you believe.
Flip through the following slides to find out the ways in which Apple might be leaving itself open to serious troubles in the coming years:
1. Expecting Too Much From Carriers
Apple at the moment has carriers right where it wants them. The companies need Apple’s products and because of that, the iPhone maker is charging massive subsidies to take advantage. But recent reports suggest carriers aren’t too happy with Apple, and over time, that might become a major concern for the company.
2. iAd Is A Going Concern
When Apple launched iAd, the company had high hopes for finding a new way to monetize the mobile space. But since then, Google’s AdMob has been doing an increasingly successful job of cornering the space. That’s bad news for Apple -- and something it’ll need to address.
3. Ultrabooks, Anyone?
Apple’s MacBook Air was the first computer to prove lightweight, ultra-thin computers could be successful. But now that Intel and its vendor partners have doubled down on the form factor, Apple’s MacBook Air will be facing off with several serious (and powerful) contenders. Will it be able to hold up?
4. Evolutionary Upgrades are an Issue
Apple has made its name on delivering revolutionary upgrades to its existing product line. But over the last couple of years, the company has only unveiled evolutionary upgrades. That’s a problem. The longer the evolutionary updates hit store shelves, the sooner consumers will wonder what else is out there. Apple needs something big -- or else.
5. The Lack of a Steve Jobs Factor
A key ingredient in Apple’s success over the years was Steve Jobs’ ability to excite consumers and the media, alike. But Tim Cook is more reserved and doesn’t necessarily have the same stage presence as his predecessor. If he doesn’t fix that, the hype and excitement surrounding Apple product launches could subside.
NEXT: "It's Time to Put Cash to Work"
6. It's Time to Put Cash to Work
Apple has over $100 billion of cash on hand. And although the company recently announced plans to issue a dividend and buy back some shares, it’s not enough. Apple competitors are spending cash on strategic acquisitions and growth initiatives at a rapid rate. At what point will Apple realize that it needs to do the same to be successful?
NEXT: "What Will Come of Subsidies?"
7. What Will Come of Subsidies?
As noted above, carriers aren’t necessarily too pleased with Apple. And right now, they’re paying serious subsidies to offer the iPhone. But as time goes on, just about everyone agrees that Apple won’t be able to charge such high subsidies, since carriers won’t be able to generate enough revenue to make it work. Apple will need to find a way around that before it hurts its financials.
China is both a major opportunity for Apple and a major risk. On one hand, the country could eventually become the iPhone maker’s biggest market. But if it doesn’t play the political game well enough, Foxconn continues to be a thorn in its side, and if it can’t get China Mobile to play nice, it could concede that huge market to a competitor. China is a real threat to Apple’s future success.
9. Operating System Security
There was a time when just about everyone believed that Mac OS X was invulnerable to attack. But with Flashback, that idea was tossed on its head. Apple needs to make sure that no further Flashback-like Trojans make headlines on its platform. If it fails at stopping them, it could see its increasing Mac OS X adoption rates start to fall.
Finally, it’s important to remember that Apple is currently waging a host of patent battles around the world. From Samsung to RIM, the company is trying to prove that it either hasn’t infringed another firm’s patents, or is having its intellectual property illegally used by another. Look for patent lawsuits to play a crucial role in Apple’s product strategy in the coming years.