2014 Will Be the Year That Defines Apple CEO Tim Cook

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What Tim Cook's Been Up To

 

Here are some of the things that Tim Cook has been working on in the last couple of years.

  1. Maintaining remarkable continuity in the ranks of Apple executives. Jonny Ive, Peter Oppenheimer, Eddy Cue, Phil Schiller, and Bruce Sewell have all remained in their jobs (Mr. Oppenheimer will retire at the end of fiscal 2014). The three new additions to Apple's leadership—Craig Federighi, Dan Riccio, and Jeff Williams—are all Apple veterans.

    Tim Cook's ability to keep all of these talented people who came to Apple in part to work with Steve Jobs says something remarkable about Tim Cook. That consistent leadership has allowed Apple's less bright critics to ignore this accomplishment.
  2. Running Apple and Apple Retail. For the last year and a half, Apple hasn't had a senior vice president or C-Suite executive in charge of retail. That means that Mr. Cook has ultimately been running retail in addition to all of the other responsibilities that go along with running the world's most profitable company.

    Some might point Mr. Cook hiring John Browett in the first place as a big mistake. It was, but to me, swiftly terminating Mr. Browett and waiting until he found what I think and hope will be the right person—Angela Ahrendts—to replace him more than outweighs that initial mistake. More importantly, though, Mr. Cook's ability to handle retail in the interim says yet another remarkable thing about him.
  3. Ensuring that Steve Jobs's business values are instilled in Apple's culture. Steve Jobs told Walter Isaacson that he worked hard in the last few years of his life to make sure that it continued and thrived without him. The man he chose to carry that banner after his death was Tim Cook.

    That goes a long way with me, but it seems clear that Tim Cook has made this a priority, and I have argued in the past that he's the only person who could have done this most-critical piece of leading Apple in the post-Jobs era.
  4. Overseeing massive expansion of Apple's manufacturing capability and bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. Apple is making the Mac Pro in Austin, Texas, and the company has invested in an enormous manufacturing facility in Arizona that will make a new product that will in turn spawn a new ecosystem.

    This is huge. HUGE. But Apple has been doing even more, investing in new oversight and management of its Asian supply chain, creating and managing new environmental programs in that supply chain, and increasing its monitoring and compliance for its Supplier Code of Conduct.

    Apple as a whole and Tim Cook in particular gets no credit for these things.
  5. Shepherding new product development and refusing to release a new product before it was ready. We all know Apple is working on new products, particularly something in wearables (the so-called iWatch), and some kind of expanded TV-related product.

    I think that many lesser people would have rushed out one of these new products just to prove to the world that they didn't need Steve Jobs. Many executives would have crumbled in the face of all of the absurd criticism hurled Mr. Cook's way.

    Instead, Tim Cook has done the harder thing. He has clearly said "No" to a lot of things, something Steve Jobs lectured about repeatedly, and he has waited to release these new products until they are ready. Just like Steve Jobs would have done. Does he get credit? No, he gets criticized by people who have done little or nothing themselves.

These are significant and amazing achievements, and Tim Cook gets credit for none of it, especially from mainstream pundits.

Next: 2014 Will Be The Year of Tim Cook

Comments

BurmaYank

”...and all of the angst from Apple haters and Tim Cook doubters that have characterized the last two and a half years will vanish.”

Maybe so, but I wouldn’t expect Bosco (& a few of his fellow Apple-hating faithful TMO-contibutors) to stop their vacuous carping about anything Apple, regardless of the Apple innovation & management successes you are predicting - I would dearly love for you to be right & for me to be wrong about that.

geoduck

I am certain that we are nearing the time when one or two new products are ready. I suspect that the iWatch—whatever Apple calls it—will be first, and that it will sooner, rather than later in the year. When that happens, Apple’s critics will magically turn on a philosophical dime and go from proclaiming that Apple can’t innovate to judging Apple’s innovation.

I don’t expect to see that. There’s too much momentum and ‘street cred’ tied up in criticizing TC and Apple for these hacks to let a little thing like facts to change their tune.

The iWatch/iBand/iPendant/iWhatever will be trashed for being an also ran, copying what everyone else has already put out, and they will call for TC to be fired for releasing such a lame product. That it works better than anyone else’s device, especially if it’s nothing like what everyone else has put out, won’t change their mantra, nor will the fact that if it’s at all well done it will sell like hotcakes and make Apple lots of money. They will just dismiss people who buy Apple’s new device the same way they dismiss people who use an iPhone, as morons and fanboys who are too stupid to know what they’re doing. There’s a whole industry that’s grown up around hating Apple, predicting Apple’s doom, trashing TC, and calling for everyone from the board on up to get fired. Facts won’t cause these people disrupt their income stream.

Immediately after the new iDevice gets released I also expect Samsung to file suit, because it has a wrist band or a face, or a touch screen which they will claim to have patented. This will give further ammunition to the Apple-Hating industry to Trash Apple and TC.

Or maybe I’ve just gotten to be very cynical about what passes for tech ‘news’ elsewhere on the web.

DuaneB

You nailed with this comment “Tim Cook has done the harder thing”. This is what separates great leaders from the also rans.

gkhudyan

AWESOME.  Will he be leaving Apple to go and personally save trees to save the earth?

FrocedCritic

STEVE JOBS WOULD AND APPLE WOULD NOT EXIST TODAY IF IT WEREN’T FOR TIM COOK.  I THINK PEOPLE JUST IMPLY THAT HE’S NOT A GOOD PRESENTER AND EXCITEMENT CREATOR LIKE STEVE WAS AND THIS MUCH IS TRUE. 

MY BIGGEST ISSUE WITH HIM IS HOW PRESENTS PRODUCTS DURING KEYNOTES – SOME PEOPLE JUST HAVE A GIFT FOR RUNNING THINGS BEHIND THE SCENES AND TIM IS ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE… HE IS A GENIUS IN HIS WAY… UNFORTUNATELY NOT AT PRESENTING PRODUCTS OR CREATING EXCITEMENT – I THINK APPLE NEEDS TO SWITCH THINGS UP A BIT AND HAVE PHIL SHICHILAR RUN ALL THE KEY NOTES FROM NOW ON… HE THE BEST SECOND TO STEVE AND WAY BETTER AT EXPLAINING NEW TECH. 

I THINK THAT’S WHERE ALL THIS TIM HATRED ORIGINATES FROM AND MAYBE SOMETHING APPLE NEEDS TOR RECOGNIZE.  TIM SHOULD RUNTHE COMPANY – NO ELSE CAN – THANK GOD HE’S THERE – BUT HE CAN’T DEMO A KEYNOTE BECAUSE HE TRIES TOO HARD TO MAKE EVERYTHING SOUND LIKE A CRACKHEAD HIGH METH! 

HONESTLY SOMETIMES IT MAKES ME CRINGE BECAUSE IT FEELS SO FAKE AND SCRIPTED, SO MUCH SO THAT I CAN’T EVEN WATCH LIVE KEYNOTES ANYMORE, THATS HOW BAD HE SUCKS!  THIS IS MY ONLY BEEF WITH TIM… I’M SURE MANY OTHERS WOULD AGREE. 

RonMacGuy

2014 is the year when analysts and armchair numbnuts will go from erroneously worrying about Apple’s ability to innovate without Steve Jobs to judging Apple’s execution in bringing innovation to market.

Bryan, I think you should have said ‘numb-nut analysts and armchair numb-nuts’ to clarify that analysts are also numb-nuts.

Oh, and I think that numb-nuts is hyphenated.  Or two separate words.  I don’t think it is one word.  But that’s just me.

For the record, I was not the one to mention Bosco (& a few of his fellow Apple-hating faithful TMO-contibutors)…

grin

 

RonMacGuy

FrocedCritic, are there better keynote presenters?  Sure.  Does Tim suck that badly?  I personally don’t think so.  No one can step in and be as good as Steve was, unfortunately.  I think Tim is getting better.

adamC

@ForcedCritic

Wow, your comment in caps I a true representation of you, I wonder how you will be on stage and I bet you will be better than Steve Jobs…

geoduck

IMO Steve Jobs didn’t start out with a brilliant stage presence. I remember a number of presentations early on where he seemed rather uncomfortable, almost awkward on stage. It’s a skill that he learned over time and TC will pick it up.

kevinlane

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe we’ve yet seen Tim Cook present any new product lines (unless you count the iPad Mini). Yes, Steve Jobs was a great presenter, but the presentations we remember the most were the ones which featured totally new products such as the iPhone and iPad. His personal excitement over such innovative products was a factor in the quality of his presentations, I believe.

If Bryan is correct (and I believe he is), we will get to see Tim Cook present something new this year, and perhaps then we will see his presentations in a new perspective.

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