Apple may be forced to hire a co-CEO to take operational control of the company, an industry pundit speculates.

Citing the two-month slip in delivering the next-generation of iMac and long US waiting lists for Apple's much sought-after iPod mini, CNN/Money states: "Steve Jobs needs to decide whether he wants to be the CEO of Apple or the CEO of Pixar  each of the companies deserves a full-time top boss.

"I wrote a while back that Jobs needed to bring on a co-CEO to help him with the operational side of Apple so he could stick to the vision thing, but he hasn't done that."

The report points to the success of Apple's consumer electronics products  iPod and iPod mini and its iTunes Music Store as causing a "cultural malaise" within its computer hardware division. He believes employees in that side of the company also need to feel vital to the company's success.

Competitors exist ready to draw benefit from any misfortunes that may strike Apple: Dell may ramp-up its sales tactics to gain precious educational market share at Apple's expense through a long wait for new iMacs, for example.

The report quotes Enderle Group principal analyst Rob Enderle who warned: "This is going to be a tough second half of the year for Apple".

Music industry sources have shared speculation that Apple may be preparing to hire someone to handle its operational matters in a supporting role to Jobs.

One name in the frame (from multiple sources) appears to be that of Roger Ames, former chariman and CEO of the Warner Music Group, who took that role in August 1999.

At the time of that appointment Artemis Records president Danny Goldberg said: "Roger is one of the few executives who really understands the record business all over the world."