One of the things that has really annoyed me lately is the arrogant, almost casual, drive-by character assassination of Apple CEO Tim Cook as a vehicle to predict the demise of Apple. Some agenda seems to be at work.
After all, if one can assert that Mr. Cook was spending all of his time since 1998, when Mr. Jobs hired him, in the closet with a spreadsheet, working operations and never developed into a product or concept guy, one can then entice the reader into the idea that Apple is being led by a man bound for failure who will drag his company into disgrace.
I know from experience what Mr. Cook is like, having worked for Apple in his chain of command in the past. By 2003, he was already making a name for himself, managing Apple sales with a firm hand and participating in the now long-gone Q&A session with Apple executives during WWDC week. I won't say he was perfect, and I have colleagues who had spectacular run-ins with him, but that's another story. Even then, we all knew he was a force to be reckoned with.
Throughout the years, Mr. Cook has been particpating in Apple's earnings reports, fielding some very clever questions from analysts, keeping product plans close to the vest, even as he remained mindful of the legal issues related to sizing up the performance of Apple. I can only conclude that writers who dis the man have never listened to these events with seasoned perspective and appreciation.
As further evidence, I want to point you to an event you can evaluate for yourself. In this video, Tim Cook, Steve Jobs and Phil Schiller are conducing a Q&A after an Apple media event in 2007.
I want to draw your attention to a few things. First, Mr. Cook isn't sitting in a closet. He's out and about, sitting next to Mr. Jobs, in what really must be considered tutelage. If Mr. Jobs had never envisioned that Mr. Cook would be, at some point, answering questions, irrespective of his own health, he wouldn't have had Mr. Cook up on the stage with him. This is graduate school training at Apple, under the Master.
At about 38 seconds into the video, a reporter from Cox Newspapers asks an interesting question about Apple's decision not to have "Intel Inside" stickers on its Macs. Others have marveled at Mr. Jobs's ability to grin, pause, deflect, then answer with humor and a touch of passion. But then he also pays his respects to Intel for the sake of the politics.
Now watch it a second time and, this time, focus on Mr. Cook starting at 0:38. As soon as the question is asked, Mr. Cook smiles. This not a smirk; it's a knowing smile.
He already knows the answer. Even though he's not on the line to answer, you can see that he knows what Mr. Jobs is going to say. How does that happen? It's called meetings every week from 1998 to 2011. It's called having your office close to Mr. Jobs. It's called being engaged in the company he's working for and being intimately involved with products, production, packaging and Apple philosophy. And being answerable to the former CEO.
Are we to believe that Mr. Cook, a very intelligent fellow, learned nothing from being on stage with Mr. Jobs?
Finally, Steve Jobs would have never selected Mr. Cook to succeed him if the very demanding and severe nature of his personality didn't think Tim Cook could handle the job. Phil Schiller has the Apple DNA too, but he doesn't have the commanding, serious presence of Mr. Cook. If we think Mr. Cook stumbled into his current position, we need only recall the stories of what happened to some employees when Mr. Jobs asked a question, and he didn't get the right answer.
Mr. Cook never says a word in this snippet of Q&A from 2007. The photographer says he was asked to stop recording early, so we're not sure. But one thing is certain. Mr. Tim Cook was working with Mr. Jobs, side-by-side at events like this, and came to learn his company inside and out for 13 years. In this video, we see him learning what it's like to be the CEO and field oddball questions.
The next time you read an article that says Apple is doomed because Tim Cook doesn't know his job, his products, his company and his customers, make note of the author. More and more of these tirades are written, amazingly, by people we've never heard of before because respected Apple journalists don't write nonsense. They know the company and the people they're covering.