But Cook is now in a tougher position than he was before and, as a result, so is Apple. There was concern over how well Cook would come across on stage after consumers have grown accustomed to the way Jobs unveiled products with passion and hyperbole. Jobs famously used adjectives like "magical" and "revolutionary" to introduce the original iPad.
With expectations running high, Cook was forced to go on stage and sell people on essentially the same phone they already have. This was a critical presentation where Cook needed to establish himself as head of the most innovative company in the world. After a three-month delay, he should've come armed to the teeth with surprises from Apple, not a half-step improvement to the iPhone 4.
Channing Smith, portfolio manager of the
Capital Advisors Growth Fund
, counts Apple as one of his largest holdings and has been a strong backer of the company. Yet, Smith uses words like "underwhelmed" and "lackluster" when talking about the iPhone 4S unveiling.
"Investors have become accustomed to this new innovative technology every time Apple has an announcement," he says. "We're accustomed to seeing something that knocks your socks off, so it's somewhat disappointing. But expectations may be getting a little unrealistic."
Those expectations exist, though, because of the culture Jobs created. Under Jobs, Apple operated in secrecy, taking the opportunity at big events to promote new products like the iPhone, iPad and iPod. Jobs helped cultivate a cult following that enjoys speculating for weeks and months leading up to product launches. Unfortunately for Cook and the rest of the Apple team, it's an environment they must now operate in.
Smith says investors have become impatient and they lose track of the fact that Apple continues to deliver innovative products. "Their technological lead on everyone else continues to be very wide, so going into the holiday season, we see a real lack of competition," he says. "That's going to create a very good setup for Apple's earnings going into the holiday season."