Rumor Mill: Apple's board concerned about CEO Cook's ability to innovate

Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) board is concerned about the company's product pipeline and whether CEO Tim Cook has the ability to continue to deliver innovative products, according to a Fox Business report.

The report, citing unnamed sources inside Apple, said that while Cook is in no danger of losing his job, there is increasing concern "at the board level about the pace of innovation." Presumably, if Apple's board has insight into the company's long-term product roadmap, this concern is about products or potential products that will debut this year.

An Apple spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rumors of Apple's product pipeline abound. Apple's long-rumored, low-cost iPhone was apparently confirmed last month in a report by advocacy group China Labor Watch, which took Apple supplier Pegatron to task for labor practices that include using underage workers, paying insufficient wages and forcing employees to work overtime. The low-cost iPhone, which many analysts have speculated Apple will release this fall to capture more of the smartphone market, was mentioned several times in the report.

Further, Apple recently acquired low-power silicon provider Passif Semiconductor for an undisclosed sum, which could indicate that Apple is continuing to work on low-power chips for wearable computing devices. Rumors have indicated Apple is working on a smart watch of some kind, which Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster told Fox Business he believes will come out next year.

"We have some incredible plans that we've been working on for a while. We have incredible ideas," Cook said in May at AllThingsD's D11 conference. "The same culture and largely the same people that brought you the iPhone, the iPad mini, the iPod and some who brought you the Mac, the same culture is there. I think we have several more game changers in us."

Cook touched on the idea of wearable computing, which Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is pushing with its Glass initiative. There have been rumors that Google, Apple, Samsung Electronics and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) are all working on smart watches that mimic many of the functions of smartphones.

"I would say that the ones that are doing more than one thing, there's nothing great out there that I've seen," Cook said of wearables. "Nothing that's going to convince a kid that's never worn glasses or a band or a watch or whatever to wear one. At least I haven't seen it. So there's lots of things to solve in this space."

Munster said a continuing concern is whether Apple will be able to compete with data-driven and personalized services such as Google Now, which has become a key part of Google's Android platform. For now, Apple is riding high, even if its stock price has been beaten down in recent months.

In its latest quarter Apple reported a decline in its quarterly net profit, from $8.8 billion a year ago to $6.9 billion in its most recent quarter. But the company's sales of iPhones during the period--31.2 million units, up from the 26 million it sold in the year-ago quarter--beat Wall Street expectations of around 27 million units. Cook partially attributed the company's better-than-expected iPhones sales on shipments of the company's older iPhone 4.

For more:
- see this Fox Business video
- see this separate Fox Business video 
- see this Barron's article
- see this VentureBeat article

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