While analysts give him high marks for returning money to shareholders -- the shares are up about 40% in the last year, they carry a 2% yield, and they will debut at about $90 after they split over the next week -- he has mainly solidified the company's lead in phones and tablets.
Under Cook, Apple has yet to stake out a new product category beachhead.
There are plenty of rumors.They start with iBeacon, a low-power wireless technology akin to Bluetooth that can push lots of data to devices at low power, allowing for in-store messaging, payments and advertising. GE (GE) has already integrated this sort of technology into its LED lighting systems and said it will function with iOS devices. Apple is also expected to enter the Internet of Things with HealthBook, a health app, and home automation apps for controlling lights, heat and security systems. Updates are widely anticipated to both iOS, which powers Apple's devices, and OS X, which powers the Apple Macintosh computer. OS X 10.10 is expected to look like iOS 8, and will ship under the name "Yosemite." iOS expected to get some OS X features, such as notifications that alert you to appointments when the calendar isn't open. OS X is not expected to get multitasking, a feature of Microsoft MSFT Windows. If it does, that's a win. Siri, the company's speech technology, may get a software development kit so it can be integrated into other applications. Expect integration to be a major theme, with Cook emphasizing how developers can tie apps together with its full range of products. This is what traders or gamblers would call the "over-under line" for today's announcements. If Tim Cook launches all this software and all these services, he will have performed according to expectations. If less is announced, he will have performed below expectations, and the stock could take a hit. But what if he announces more? What if he announces new hardware? No new iPads, iPhones or iMacs are expected at this week's event. Anything like that would be an upside surprise.