Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) appears to be past its prime, and signs of decay reminiscent of Gibbon have begun to appear at the Cupertino firm. According to SEC data, however,  the company employs four out of five of the highest paid executives in the United States. Apple investors, who have seen their stock decline by 30% in the last twelve months, should not be happy.

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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) executives Bob Mansfield, Senior VP for Technologies, Bruce Sewell, Senior VP and General Council, Jeff Williams, Senior VP for Operations, and Peter Oppenheimer, Senior VP and CFO, were all in the top five at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). The executives received $85.5 million, $69 million, $68.7 million and $68.6 million respectively.

Analysts have suggested that the large compensation is necessary in order to keep key players at the firm. Investors are happy to have the team that made Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) the most valuable company in the world at its head, but it is an expensive burden to bear.

Tim Cook earned a total of $4.17 million in 2012, nothing compared to the $378 million he received in 2011. The vast majority of that package was restricted stock, designed to keep Cook’s interests and those of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) aligned. Despite the intention, the value of the stock, and Cook’s compensation by extension, has fallen dramatically in recent months.

The same data last year showed Tim Cook, the company’s current CEO, at the top of earners in the executive world. It should be noted that most of the compensation received by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) executives comes in the form of equity rather than salary. Equity bonuses are used in order to provide incentives, and keep executives fighting for the same company.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has used equity payments, particularly the sort that matures a year or two after payment, to keep executives at the company for years. Investors looking at today’s news might be irked that payments have remained so high despite the dramatic fall in the company’s prospects.

The firm is due to launch a slew of product updates in the coming months including the introduction of a new iPad and a new iPhone. Whether or not the company’s new releases reinvigorate excitement or not remains to be seen. With compensation packages like Mansfield’s $85.5 million or Sewell’s $69 million, the company had best impress lest it face a backlash.