It seems fashionable to fuss about how Tim Cook can’t cut it and how Apple will slide into mediocrity under his leadership. Let’s look at the facts instead.
Let’s face it, Steve Jobs could often be hard to work with. The facts are that he could be abrasive and arrogant, and that sometimes made it hard for Apple to work with other executives. Mr. Cook’s style is very different, and while he’s demanding and tough, he’s also able to negotiate with other human beings in a more amiable, corporate style. We saw that first in the Verizon deal in 2011.
I wrote about the new CEO’s performance to date awhile back, “Apple CEO Tim Cook: a Report Card.” Now I’d like to add another item to the list of apparent achievements. I point to this story at Infoworld by Woody Leonhard that details some of the behind the scenes work done by Apple to get Oracle to take on ownership and maintenance of Java for OS X. The title, appropriately enough is, “Apple’s Tim Cook wins where Steve Jobs failed: On Java.”
Mr. Leonhard references a comment Steve Jobs made about Java. “Java’s not worth building in. Nobody uses Java anymore. It’s this big heavyweight ball and chain.” Despite the friendship between Larry Ellison and Steve Jobs, one had to imagine how corporate managers would react to that comment. Java is a major, believe me, major tool for enterprise code development (along with other related technologies) in the U.S., having supplanted C++ in most circles years ago. So when you rub everyone involved the wrong way, even friends, you can hardly expect them to do you any favors.
Let’s look at it another way. Tim Cook has been through a lot in his short tenure. As I mentioned, he was responsible for sealing the deal with Verizon and the iPhone, a big test of his negotiation capabilities long before he took over as CEO. He’s passed every test since then. Can anyone point to an on the job failure that would result in questioning his capabilities? I cannot.
Tech News Debris
Charlie Stross is one of my favorite SciFi authors, ever since I read his Merchant Princess series that launched with The Family Trade in 2005. Recently, Mr. Stross wrote an epistle, which I forgot to include last week, on the subject of DRM and e-books. His argument, from an author’s perspective, is that DRM is bad. Here is his very persuasive article “More on DRM and ebooks.”
Corporate executives think that because they get paid a lot and are running a big company that they know the fundamentals — while they also think that the SciFi author is a grouch who lives in his mom’s basement and pleads for crumbs from the publisher. In fact, authors like Mr. Stross are the thinkers and the experts. CEOs should listen more to the people they pay to influence, inspire and entertain us with their writing talents.
For as long as movies have been shot, the frame rate has been 24 fps. It was a trade between the expense of film and the persistence effect of human vision. That’s about to change, and the driver is apparently 3D. Here’s some interesting background in this likely seachange in the industry. “Why movies are moving from 24 to 48 fps.”
Star Trek: First Contact, Image Credit: Paramount
You know I love charts that tell a story visually. This week, Peter Bright at ars technica did a bang up job of telling the browser story and the rate of adoption of various browsers, IE, Firefox and Chrome with charts It was also interesting to see the mobile browser market share that shows how mobile Safari is gaining on Android. The highlight of the story is that “One third of Firefox users vulnerable to known flaws; IE and Chrome continue to gain share.” But every chart tells an interesting tale.
Corporate size brings power. Power corrupts.
Earlier in the week, I wrote a news story about how Target plans to discontinue the sales of Amazon- and Kindle-branded products in its stores. Those were the essential facts. However, it’s always fun to dig a little deeper and find out why things like that happen. A plausible story is laid out by the New York Times, and the story also does double duty as it introduces a new technical term (to me anyway): “Showrooming.” Check this one out. “Target, Unhappy With Being an Amazon Showroom, Will Stop Selling Kindles.”