What Apple needs to give us is a new product, more specifically a new product category. Can it deliver an Apple TV that will explode the cable business model? Can it deliver an Apple Watch millions will wear? Or Apple eyeglasses?
These are the most obvious ideas that are floated by Apple analysts, but moving the needle requires more. We need to be wowed, we need to be amazed and we need to have our lives changed again. Steve Jobs did that for us, and that justified the high valuation placed on Apple shares in his time, relative to Apple sales and profits.
By the time the summer press conference season rolls around, Cook will have had almost three years to come up with something new. He will have had all the resources of American design and Chinese manufacturing laid out before him through that time.
Can he make something of it?If he can't, then Apple earnings aren't worth an above-market price. A dollar of Google (GOOG) earnings are worth $32 because we can see Google continuing to grow, at about 30% per year, for years to come. A dollar of Amazon sales are worth $3 for the same reason. Apple sales, by contrast, rose just 7% between fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2013, from $156.5 billion to $170.9 billion. Sales for the company's fiscal first quarter ended Dec. 28 show year-over-year growth slowing further, from $54.5 billion to $57.6 billion, roughly 5.6%. Follow @DanaBlankenhorn This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.