The Loss of Steve Jobs

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The Loss of Steve Jobs

There's no question that losing Steve Jobs last year has been a major blow to Apple. Historically, he was the only CEO to lead the company with any effectiveness. So far, new CEO Tim Cook has been succeeding because of the products that the company developed under Jobs' watch. In 2012, Cook and his executive team will need to prove they can at least come close to filling Jobs' shoes.

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Androids Smartphone Growth

Android is a huge threat to the iPhone. In 2012, many more Android-based smartphones are slated to hit store shelves, and they'll likely be running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, an operating system that many believe is the best Android version yet. Apple will need to continue to improve iOS in 2012. If it doesn't, consumers might find a better option in Android.

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Android Tablets

In 2011 Android tablets weren't much of a concern for Apple. But in 2012, they will be. Many more companies are expected to join the tablet market, and like Amazon, they'll likely offer up some unique features and functions that will attract new customers. The iPad will likely be the top-selling tablet this year, but Apple must ensure that it keeps a big lead over Android tablets. If it doesn't, the tablet space might get away from it the way the smartphone market has.

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The Threat of Ultrabooks

Apple's MacBook Air has been a welcome addition to the notebook market. But in 2012, as more companies deliver ultrabooks, it might be viewed as the overpriced alternative that fewer customers will choose. Ultrabooks are well-designed, come with solid battery life and will be coming down in price this year. They're a real threat to the MacBook Air. And Apple can't lose sight of that.

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What About Windows 8?

Windows 8 is an interesting operating system. On one hand, it's designed to carry the Windows torch for the next couple years. But on the other hand, it's also designed to help Microsoft establish a presence in the tablet market. Windows 8 can be both a threat and an opportunity for Apple. IT needs to keep an eye on the development of this new Windows version and respond appropriately. Simply ignoring it would be a mistake.

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Mobile Security Threats

As Apple continues to sell an ever increasing number of mobile devices, it only presents a more inviting target to cyber-criminals. Apple will have to remain vigilant for mobile security threats that are growing in sophistication. Around the world, malicious hackers and cyber-criminals are ready to pounce on mobile platforms. If Apple isn't careful, it could deal with major security threats this year that could hurt its sales in a big way.

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Price, Price, Price

Price will continue to be a major determining factor in the success or failure of mobile devices. Although Apple's products have been more successful at higher prices, there's a good chance the world economy could get hit hard this year as the Eurozone debt crisis is sure to continue as an intractable threat. Less expensive products, therefore, might prove more popular in 2012. Apple must be very mindful of pricing this year. One misstep and the company's financials could get hit hard.

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How Will It Hold Off the Kindle Fire?

Speaking of pricing, Amazon's Kindle Fire is one of the least expensive, yet highly desirable tablets on store shelves, coming in at just $199. Now it appears the tablet could come in different sizes later this year, putting even more pressure on Apple. Should Apple combat that with a smaller iPad 3? Should it stick to its guns with its larger, more expensive model? Apple will need to decide how it wants to hold off the Kindle Fire sooner rather than later.

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Can It Impress Consumers With the iPad 3?

The iPad 2 was a bit of a disappointment for consumers looking for major improvements over the original iPad. Apple can't make that mistake again this year. The challenge for Apple is to deliver an iPad 3 that excites customers, fulfills their desires and makes them forget about competing devices. At this point, it's an absolute necessity.

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The iPhone 5 Must Be a Major Update—or Else

It's a similar story with the iPhone 5. Apple's iPhone 4S has the same body as the iPhone 4, its predecessor, and comes with just a few minor improvements. The iPhone 5 is widely expected to be a major update. Apple's challenge this year will be to satisfy customers with lofty expectations for the new model and to demonstrate once again that no competitor can match its smartphone, no matter how hard it tries.

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