2012: Apple & the iPhone 5
After months of anticipation for what Apple will release and what the next iPhone will do and look like, the iPhone 5 was announced and it wasn't the massive hit everyone had hoped it would be. The initial iPhone 5 sales were considered disappointing and labeled "worst case scenario" at 50 million. Disappointing sales were blamed on supply chain issues and declining demand. There were concerns that competition from Google and Samsung might finally be catching up and putting pressure on Apple and its ability to innovate. Also, the iPhone 5 wasn't considered to be impressive enough and had a 'purple hue' camera issue. All of that was coupled with Apple's major failed launch of its subpar in-house Mapping solution replacing Google Maps and a release of iOS that didn't feature the redesign everyone was looking forward to, which of course, came a year later with iOS 7. Doubts about Apple's ability to innovate and failures like the Maps app translated into doubts about Tim Cook's leadership. People wanted more from Cook and an iPad mini lacking a Retina Display just didn't cut it. There were many shake-ups to Apple as a whole as well, most notably was Scott Forstall leaving Apple after being a part of the company since its early days — joining NeXT in 1992, before NeXT was purchased by Apple in 1997 and, before Apple became the company it is today.
To sum it up: 2012 wasn't a great year for Apple; it was a transitional stage and took a whole two years just to recover from.
2014: What Has Changed?
Starting with the iPhone, the iPhone 6 is expected to come in two sizes, a 4.7" and 5.5" version, despite the way Apple would go about differentiating the two devices remaining a mystery. Reports claim that Apple has ordered 70-80 million 4.7" and 5.5" iPhone 6's. As for software, iOS 8 looks promising with extensions, third-party keyboard support and an even deeper integration with OS X. Also, Apple's iPhone business is being praised. After years of claims that Apple will fail if they don't go after the emerging market, analysts are finally starting to realize that maybe Apple knew what they were doing all along. By not joining every other manufacturer to a race to the bottom, especially following Samsung's disappointing earnings report, Apple can continue to maintain it's lead and remain relevant by focusing on differentiating itself with iOS and maintaining its premium status. We also have a new product category right around the corner, which of course is the iWatch, iTime or whatever name it receives. Despite a report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claiming the iWatch will be delayed until 2015 due to manufacturing problems, I still firmly believe that we will hear about a device that you can wear on your wrist within the upcoming months leading up to the holiday season.
All in all, if Apple wants to maintain it's stock price: deliver an iWatch, both versions of the iPhone 6, avoid a Maps-scale failure and throw in the usual iPad upgrades — basically, live up to Eddy Cue's claim that Apple's 2014 launch line-up is the most exciting in 25 years.