Apple’s chief executive had some bad news. “Like others in our industry, we are experiencing a slowdown in sales this quarter,” he told investors, as Apple fell short of its revenue projections by some 10%. But he added: “We’ve got some amazing new products in development, so we’re excited about the year ahead.” That was 2002, and Steve Jobs launched the iPod less than a year earlier. Back then, Apple was embarking on a remarkable wave of innovations that would culminate in one of the most lucrative consumer products of all time: the iPhone. But this week, after Jobs’ successor, Tim Cook, issued a similar warning, investors are now wondering what can possibly follow “peak iPhone”. Cook’s 1,400-word letter to investors was long on excuses but lacked the pithy promise of an imminent return to form that Jobs’ 72-word statement did 16 years ago — the last time Apple issued such an intra-quarter bombshell. “We are confident and excited about our pipeline of future products and services,”...

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