Apple Can't Afford an iWatch Flop

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With $160 billion in cash, there's very little that tech giant Apple (AAPL) can't afford. But four years since the release of the original iPad, Apple CEO Tim Cook can't afford missing out on the "next big thing" and expect to get away with it.

Many industry pundits claim that Apple can no longer innovate. There seems to be a consensus that Apple's creativity died along with former CEO Steve Jobs.

In her new book Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs, Yukari Iwatani Kane, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, described Cook as "stage manager" and Jobs as the star. Forbes contributor Peter Cohan was less gracious. In pointing out Cook's inability to launch the next "industry-transforming product," Cohan described Cook as a "railroad operator."

So on Tuesday, when reports surfaced that Apple was going to launch the highly-anticipated iWatch in the third quarter of this year, there was reason for excitement. Not that it was a surprise. But the iWatch will be the first product launch under Tim Cook. He's finally going to get a chance to release that monkey off his back.

But if reports are to be believed, Cook plans to demolish every product launch record that Apple has had under Jobs. According to Economic Daily News via DigiTimes, Apple has set goals to ship roughly 65 million iWatches. Calling that number aggressive would be a gross understatement. Recall how popular the iPod was. But in its first full year of sales in 2002, Apple shipped just over 300,000 devices. And they considered revolutionary.

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