“We’ve been hearing more criticism lately that Tim Cook has failed in his leadership of Apple, that Cook hasn’t been able to fill the shoes of Steve Jobs. The expectation that Cook could become another Steve Jobs was never realistic, but there’s an important role that Jobs performed that needs to be filled by someone at Apple,” Mark Hibben writes for Seeking Alpha. “That’s the role of product architect.”

“What’s a product architect? It’s actually difficult to answer, and I find myself wanting to say “it’s what Steve Jobs did.” Elon Musk of Tesla has the title of Chairman, Product Architect, and CEO. Clearly, Tesla’s products bear the imprimatur of the tastes and judgment of Musk, just as Apple’s products once did of Jobs,” Hibben writes. “Product architects are generalists, not specialists. They may have a technical or engineering background, but they also have a wide range of interests beyond that. The key role of the product architect is to figure out how to turn innovative technologies into successful products.”

“The ability of Steve Jobs to see the product nascent in a lab experiment was his true genius, but he also had the ability to guide product development efforts (such as the development of the Mac, iPod, iPhone, etc.) making crucial technology decisions along the way,” Hibben writes. “When I think about Apple’s management team, I really don’t see anyone who fulfills the product architect role. Jony Ive? Maybe it was intended that he perform that role, but if you look at his job description (on Apple), it’s not quite the same thing.”

“If Ive was intended to be the product architect, I’ll be blunt. He isn’t cutting it,” Hibben writes. “The architect operates at a somewhat higher level. Product architecture combines many elements including marketing, technology and design. But it’s not primarily about aesthetics.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The Apple TV remote is clear, incontrovertible evidence that Jony Ive either wasn’t involved or had mentally checked out during its so-called “design process.” Obviously, Steve Jobs is missed and, yes, Apple does need a Jobsian product architect. Unfortunately, Steve was a unique genius and his shoes, so far, have been impossible to fill.

As we wrote over three years ago:

Steve Jobs would get it. Tim Cook? Well, he released it. Just like he released Apple Maps. If it’s not crystal clear by now, it should be: Cook can’t see it. He’s very good at some things; other things he simply cannot see. This is not a knock. The ability to be so detail-oritented, so absorbed in the end user experience to the exclusion of all else, is a rare ability.

“Tim’s not a product person, per se.” – Steve Jobs discussing Tim Cook, as quoted by Walter Isaacson in “Steve Jobs”

Cook needs to assign people to these projects who can do what he cannot, who can see what he cannot see, and make sure these people are as focused and obsessed as Steve Jobs. There may only be one person at Apple who can do this reliably: Jony Ive. Unfortunately, he may be too busy being chief designer of all things Apple (hardware and software) to also do what Jobs did so incredibly well: Focus on a wide range of products, experience each of them as the end user does, and not allow products out the door until they can perform as Apple products should perform. It’s highly likely there is not enough time in the day for all Ive would need to do (or even to do all that he’s supposed to be doing already).

Cook needs to find people who are obsessive about the end user experience and assign them to these type of projects. There should have been someone at Apple who became the planet’s preeminent authority on streaming radio, who knew every service, who used these services for hours each day, who lived and breathed and used streaming radio for months. This person should have been iTunes Radio’s shepherd and final arbiter, without whose approval, iTunes Radio would not be released. Was there such a person on this project?

…To state the obvious: Steve Jobs was one-of-a-kind and truly amazing. No hyperbole. Cook needs to try to replicate Steve Jobs as much as possible with a group of people, each of whom can contribute various elements of Jobs’ wide range of skills.MacDailyNews, November 11, 2013