Tim Cook Makes His First Mark on Apple

Captain CookDuring Tuesday’s Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook provided his first extensive, impromptu public appearance. He spoke from the heart about Apple and made his first definable mark on the company.

Looking back for a bit, we all know that Steve Jobs had something to prove: that his vision would turn out to be ultimately superior to that of Bill Gates and Microsoft. He drove Apple relentlessly to make the best products on the planet until someone, everyone noticed. But Apple was caught in the institution of the corporate PC. One of the many geniuses of Steve Jobs was to break out, create new product categories, where Apple’s commitment to excellence could shine.

Now, at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, Tim Cook has spoken out with essentially a personal manifesto. He spoke more slowly and deliberately than ever before, without an earnings report script, and he was more passionate, deliberate, inspired than we’ve ever seen (or mostly heard) him.

Mr. Cook, it seems to me, is now freed from the demons of Steve Jobs. He’s a man of quiet confidence. My take is that, unshackled from Mr. Jobs’s insecurities, Mr. Cook is ready to make courageous change yet equally determined to preserve Apple’s legacy.

We’ve seen Mr. Cook institute a charitable giving program at Apple. We’ve seen him take the Chinese working conditions by the horns. In that regard, Mr. Cook pointed out that he’s “determined to drive widespread change.”

There was a time when when we were all worried about the future of Apple without Steve Jobs. It would have been great to keep Mr. Jobs around for a long time; his early death was tragic. However, one can take some comfort in the notion that the fundamental work of Steve Jobs has been completed. Apple escaped from the torment of the market’s slavish devotion to Windows, even when it was the source of great difficulties for many.

Apple has found its path forward now. Mr Cook has defined it. We have a man who exhibits just a bit more humanity than we’re accustomed to, a man of great depth of character and passion to lead Apple. Tim Cook’s public debut, if you will, on Tuesday revealed that he isn’t as one-dimensional as some had feared.

As I’ve said before, this new Captain of the ship has his own set of strengths and skills. We’re quickly coming to appreciate them.


Artwork: Bryan Chaffin

Captain hat and wheel: Shutterstock.