Tim Cook teases "exciting new product categories" for this fall and 2014

Apple's quarterly conference calls are always full of enlightening snippets of information, and the call following the release of the second quarter of 2013 financial results was no exception. In addition to revealing explosive growth in China, aggressive iPhone 4 pricing in developing markets, and that there are still trade-offs that would exist were Apple to hypothetically make a hypothetical iPhone with a screen of some size hypothetically larger than the 4 inches of the current iPhone 5, Cook hinted that Apple is investing in "the potential of exciting new product categories" and that Apple might be announcing new products in the fall.

Of course, he wasn't nearly so direct, merely indicating that the fall quarter is when things might pick up a bit, saying that "We've got a lot more surprises in the works." In fact, the guidance for the next quarter seems to indicate that Apple's not planning anything major over the next two months. Apple hasn't had a major product launch so far this year - in fact, Cook lamented that perhaps Apple should have held back on the introduction of the new iMacs until the start of 2013 - and at this pace may not until this fall. Cook repeatedly hinted that Apple's engineers and developers are "hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can't wait to introduce in the fall and into 2014." So much for speculation of a summer iPhone launch, eh?

Of course, Cook declined to comment on when exactly that new hardware, software and services will hit the physical and virtual shelves, but it's looking like 2014 will be the year to watch for Apple.

Exactly which "exciting new product categories" Apple is exploring come the fall and 2014 is up in the air. There's the Apple Watch, which Apple is supposedly working hard on. There's the long- and oft-rumored iTV. And there are things that can almost state as fact as coming (though we won't until they're announced), like iOS 7 and a new iPhone without a bigger screen.

It's telling that Cook felt the need to state that these new products might come late this year or even into next year. The move was likely a deliberate effort to set investor expectations - the next quarter will be good, at least as far as Apple quarters are concerned (most companies would consider a quarter like this last one to be an extraordinary cause for celebration) - but not extraordinary like the preceding holiday quarter. And while Cook isn't happy about the decline in Apple's stock price, calling it "very frustrating", he said that "the most important objective at Apple will always be creating the most innovative products." And innovation takes time.