On the heels of some rather disquieting reports that the shift in focus at Apple Retail Stores from delighting customers to reaping profits came directly from Apple CEO Tim Cook, instead of his newly-hired Dixons flunky, John Browett*, we’ve begun to review what we’ve seen so far from Apple Inc. in the post-Steve Jobs era.
Following Cook’s lackluster performance at the iPhone 4S event, which we attributed to the gloomy knowledge of Jobs’ impending death, we were delighted by the decision to honor Jobs with a celebration of his life on Apple’s Cupertino campus. We were very encouraged to hear Cook articulate what he learned from Steve Jobs at his D:All Things Digital Conference appearance on May 29, 2012 (even if it does now clash royally with the recent retail store reports):
• Apple should accept only the best, “that’s embedded in Apple… I’m not going to witness or permit the change of that.”
• “He also taught me the joy is in the journey, and that was a revelation for me.”
• “He looked at me with those intense eyes that only he had, and said, ‘Just do what’s right.’”
• Companies can get lost, Cook said, focusing on revenue, profit or stock price. “I just want to build great products. I think if we do that, then the other things follow… You have to focus on the things that lead to those.
Cook also began the laudable program of matching employee donations to charity, a plan which Steve Jobs approved, and, during his tenure, rolled out the iPad with Retina display, OS X Mountain Lion, the MacBook pro with Retina display, unveiled iOS 6 (soon to be released) with Apple Maps, launched iCloud, got Bob Mansfield to un-retire, hired John Browett to replace the outgoing Ron Johnson, launched an updated Apple TV featuring 1080p capability, initiated dividend and share buyback programs, launched iTunes Store in Brazil, Latin America, and many Asian countries, released iPhoto for iOS, pursued patent infringers through court systems around the globe, enlisted the Fair Labor Association to begin inspections of China product assembler Foxconn, and dramatically improved Final Cut Pro X among other things. All while preparing the next-gen iPhone and, if reports are correct, the “iPad mini.”
In short, Tim Cook has presided over a very busy, very productive, and downright remarkable and momentous year. While the changes on the product side to date have been evolutionary rather than revolutionary, we not only hope for, but expect some very magical products from Apple in the future.
Nearly everything outside of the recent troubling reports about Cook et al. shifting Apple Retail’s focus from delighting customers to reaping profits give us much confidence in Apple’s future.
So, what has Tim Cook done following Steve Jobs’ death that inspires your confidence in Apple Inc.?
*It’s no secret that we don’t care much for John Browett as everything we’ve heard about him so far has been tepid at best and generally awful otherwise. Browett remains on our shit list until he earns his way off. Cook would do very well to conduct some public rehab of Browett if he intends to keep him around. It would be a wise move to allow Browett to do an interview (or even do a joint interview) with The Wall Street Journal or similar in order to articulate his and Cook’s vision for Apple Retail. If the vision hews closely to what Cook says he learned from Jobs, such a public relations move would go a long way at this point. Otherwise, cut him loose.