Finally, there’s the future. Perhaps Apple’s brightest days are still ahead. Rumors continue to swirl about a potential Apple Car, and the company has been suspiciously quiet about virtual reality, despite big moves in the space from rivals Facebook, Google and Microsoft. With billions in reserve, Apple could compete just about anywhere, given sufficient motivation.
Consider that Apple has never invested more in research and development, having grown the budget more than 30 percent for six years running. Clearly, the future is very much on the company's mind.
But can Apple really ever match the success that was the iPhone, and, temporarily, the iPad? Take Tim Cook’s own thoughts in a 2014 interview with the Wall Street Journal. Asked about Apple's slowing growth, Cook referred back to 2010 through 2012 — just after the iPad's release and during the iPhone's rapid rise.
In the end, Apple’s past success deserves some blame for the intense scrutiny the company garners today. Any recent, incremental growth tends to look small and underwhelming by comparison.