Innovation is the lifeblood of technology companies. It's a lot like professional sports: You're only as good as your last game. Companies don't want to become the next Netscape or Yahoo, which is still struggling to regain its lost luster.
Apple needs to do three things to regain their reputation for innovation:
1. Present to the marketplace new products in untapped segments (such as TV, payment mechanisms, and health-tracking devices)
2. Deliver a next-generation iPhone that isn't just evolutionary but instead contains meaningful technological advances such as the fingerprint scanner included in the iPhone 5s.
(Read more: Is Tim Cook trying to tell you something?)
3. Paint a clear vision as to their view on the emergence of new technology and how it will be incorporated into products
Being an innovator not only means great technology but understanding what the market wants and delivering a product that is unique and differentiated. Sony and HTC didn't do that. But the marketplace demands it.
I believe Apple will shock skeptics and demonstrate in 2014 that innovation is alive and well at the company. While no one can replace Steve Jobs, there is ample bench strength that will push Apple into new markets with innovative products.