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Apple stock price falls sharply; iPad mini reviews begin appearing

October 31, 2012|By Andrea Chang
  • Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, at the iPad mini's launch event in San Jose.
Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, at the iPad mini's launch event… (Noah Berger / Bloomberg )

It's been a rough day on Wall Street so far for Apple, which has seen shares fall as much as 2.7% in morning trading.

Wednesday is the first day of trading since Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook announced a management shakeup that included the departures of John Browett, the head of retail operations, and Scott Forstall, who oversaw the company's widely panned Siri and Maps app products.

Shares fell as low as $587.70. At 11:45 a.m. Pacific time, they were at $600.95, down $3.05 or 0.5%.

Forstall, a longtime executive and protege of co-founder Steve Jobs, managed the iOS operating system that runs iPhone and iPad. But the 15-year Apple veteran was also responsible for replacing Google's popular Maps app with Apple's own homegrown version, which has been plagued by inaccurate information and other problems. Cook issued an apology shortly after Apple's Maps was released and, in a rare move, encouraged users to try alternatives offered by rivals.

Browett's ouster came just six months after he was hired to lead Apple's retail stores. The former CEO of British electronics chain Dixons took over for Ron Johnson, who helped create the look and feel of Apple stores and left to become CEO of JCPenney.

Browett's short stint with the company was reportedly shaky from the start. In August, he was forced to issue an apology and reverse course on a new store staffing plan, which was rumored to include hiring freezes and employee layoffs.

The management shakeup, Cook's biggest since becoming CEO last year, also brings new responsibilities for Jony Ive, Apple's design whiz; Eddy Cue, who runs Apple's online services; Bob Mansfield, who retired this year but is returning to focus on "future products"; and Craig Federighi, who is now in charge of the Mac operating system.

Separately, early reviews for Apple's long-awaited iPad mini have started to trickle out.

The 7.9-inch tablet computer, which begins shipping Friday, has largely received solid marks, although complaints about its non-retina display quality (the iPad mini features the same screen resolution as the iPad 2) and high price have kept it from receiving glowing reviews.

"By pricing the mini so high, Apple allows the $200 class of 7-inch Android tablets and readers to live (Google Nexus, Kindle Fire HD, Nook HD). Those tablets also, by the way, have high-definition screens (1,280 by 800 pixels), which the mini doesn’t," wrote David Pogue of the New York Times.

"I’ve also had the chance to try out the iPad mini for the past week. My thoughts are much more straightforward here: Yes," said MG Siegler of TechCrunch. "The iPad mini isn’t perfect ... but it’s damn close to my ideal device."

Despite those gripes, reviewers thought Apple had produced a worthy product.

The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg said: "If you love the iPad, or want one, but just found it too large or heavy, the iPad mini is the perfect solution."

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