Editor's note: As part of our partnership with PBS's Nightly Business Report, TheStreet's James Rogers joined NBR Monday (watch video and read transcript here) to look at ways Apple's new CEO Tim Cook could step out of Steve Jobs' considerable shadow.
|Tim Cook, Apple's new CEO|
Bolster the Board
New TechnologiesCould Cook add new technologies to the iPhone that were shunned by his predecessor? Quite possibly, according to In-Stat's Nogee, who think that this would further differentiate the phone from its competitors. "The phone industry is tough -- it's getting more competitive now with Android and Windows phone coming out," he told TheStreet. Specifically, Nogeea think that near field communication (NFC), a swiping technology used for mobile payments, would be a smart move for Apple. Rival Google ( GOOG), for example, is using NFC for its eponymous Google Wallet smartphone app, which has the backing of Visa ( V), Citigroup ( C) and MasterCard ( MA). Handset makers Nokia ( NOK), Samsung and LG also have jumped on the NFC bandwagon. "There's interesting things in near field communication technology and electronic purchases with the phone," explained Nogee. With consumers looking to use their phones as mobile wallets, there were rumors that NFC technology would form part of Apple's latest iPhone announcement, although this did not materialize. It's not just NFC, though, that could be high on Cook's agenda, according to the analyst. The Apple chief should push exciting new display technologies such as Pico Projectors, which are miniature, laser-based image projectors, he said. Apple may already be on this path, if a recent patent application from the Cupertino, Calif.-based firm is anything to go by. The filing describes a technology that shares images between projected displays on different devices, hinting at mini projectors for future iOS offerings. The technology will even detect multitouch gestures on the projected displays, according to the application, a space age feature that would undoubtedly wow Apple's many fanboys.
Clean Up the Supply ChainCook, a logistics guru, is already facing calls to turn his attention to Apple's suppliers, particularly working conditions at some of the company's contractors. TheStreet reader Stephen Nuchia, for example, responding to a question on Cook's strategy that was posted on Facebook, urged the new Apple CEO to "establish humane working conditions throughout the supply chain." Apple has also had to defend itself against alleged pollution by suppliers that make its products in China. A spokesman for the tech giant, though, told TheStreet that Apple is committed to "driving the highest standards of social responsibility" throughout its supply chain. "We require that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made," he explained, in an email. "Suppliers commit to the Apple Supplier Code of Conduct as a condition of doing business with us, and we monitor their compliance through a rigorous program of onsite factory audits." Apple, unlike most tech companies, also publishes an annual report on "supplier responsibility." In this year's report, Apple noted that it extended its supplier monitoring program and has also been working aggressively to prevent the hiring of underage workers. Audits conducted by Apple in 2010, however, found 91 cases of underage labor within the supply chain, according to the report. An inspection by Apple in 2009 had found evidence of 11 underage workers.
One Area That Shouldn't ChangeCook will undoubtedly maintain Apple's iron grip over its supplier ecosystem, aiming to ensure that the tech giant gets the components it needs for future product launches. With a coveted spot inside, say a new iPhone, or a new iPad up for grabs, suppliers have to jump to Apple's tune. Just because a chipmaker is in, say, one version of the iPhone, it doesn't guarantee a place in the next generation of the product. While the company's supply partners are bound by an omertà-style code of silence toward the gadget giant, "teardowns" of the latest gear shed some light on the component makers riding the Apple wave. Power amplifier specialist TriQuint ( TQNT), for example, has been cited as the big winner within Apple's new iPhone 4S. The Hillsboro, Ore.-based company, which provided components for the original iPhone 4, did not feature in the Verizon ( VZ) version of the product but is back in the latest iPhone. A teardown performed by the iFixit.com Web site, reveals two chips from power amplifier specialist TriQuint within the new iPhone 4S, sending the company's shares surging last week. --Written by James Rogers in New York >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/jamesjrogers. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org