Tim Cook, Apple
In particular, there is growing concern that he lacks the willingness to take risks. Cautiousness and efficiency served him well when he ran Apple’s supply chain, but now that he’s calling the shots on product strategy, his conservative, stay-the-course approach is making investors impatient.
Cook’s strategy of incremental product updates (critics point out that Apple has released no new products since he became CEO) has kept sales high, but it’s losing its grip on key mobile categories. Since Cook took over the top job in August 2011, Apple’s share in the smartphone market has slipped from 14.5% to 12.9%. And while AAPL may still sell more tablets than anyone else, iPad marketshare has dropped from 61.5% of all tablets sold to just 29.6% during the same period.
Investors are increasingly pressuring Cook to light a fire and be more aggressive about new products and new markets. He’s promised new stuff to come in 2014 — the rumored iWatch smartwatch is good bet — but with Apple still 24% off last year’s $700 high, the clock is ticking for Cook. Failure to deliver something new in 2014 (and have it be a category-defining blockbuster hit) could prove fatal.