Open thread: What has Tim Cook done following Steve Jobs’ death that inspires your confidence in Apple Inc.?

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.

74 Comments

    1. It certainly hasn’t been completely dropping the ball on a proper Mac Pro upgrade with proper USB 3 and Thunderbolt ports on a PRO level machine already found on the consumer line. This oversight is jaw-dropping. As an Apple stockholder I want to see Apple also firing on its professional Macs cylinder and addressing that market, though yes not the biggest in the Apple oeuvre. But an important one. And also make it possible to use off the shelf PC video cards.

      1. Sorry dude. Tim Cook has to think about the bottom line. Mac Pro’s are an insignificant part of Apple’s revenue and profit. iPhone, iPad, and MacBooks are where Apple needs to focus.

        1. Apple’s current desktop machines are embarrassingly outdated. If Apple were to offer machines worthy to sell the desktop fraction of Apple’s profits would increase.

        2. That’s very true, dude. But professional users have stuck with Apple throughout the years because Apple has supported them 100%. We’re not fanboys, we’re professionals. We use the best tools available and those tools have always been supplied by Apple. When Apple was at the bottom professionals still stuck with Apple. But truth be told, it wasn’t because we thought Apple was our buddy it’s because they still made the best product available. So it was a business decision. This inactivity in the Mac Pro line is a business decision by Apple. We do not consider it anything personal. It may take a while but that void can be filled by someone other than Apple. And if need be, will be. It’s just going to make things difficult for professionals for a while. But the opportunity will not be lost on some ambitious company out there. The new professional desktop is coming but I don’t think it will be much of an improvement. So your observation sad to say will come true. We should know in the next couple of months. But I don’t expect much from Apple. Somewhere someone is watching this situation and hopefully will be able to take advantage of it. Professionals need professional tools. I can still use all the other things Apple makes and will. But if they decide to dumb down the pro line, we’re out here.

        3. Their bottom line is as thick as your skull–and lemme tell ya that’s pretty damn thick… e-heh, e-heh-heh, e-………………

          Seems to me a good business–not to mention one as HUUUGE as Apple–knows how to support all of it’s users not just the ones with cash falling out of their pockets willing to buy products whose upgrade consist of adding an “S” to the name.

          It’s ok, my money was good enough for adobe. And Premiere comes with Pro support!!!! go figure!!!

    2. You have to consider that Tim Cook was already running Apple as “acting” CEO for a long time, before the passing of Steve Jobs.

      What has Apple done recently…? iPhone 4S shipped. iOS 5 and iCloud shipped. The New iPad shipped. New MacBook models (including “Retina”) shipped. Mountain Lion shipped.

      AAPL is hitting all-time highs, again, with Apple becoming the highest valued company in history. Apple started paying a quarterly dividend, which has NOT hurt AAPL’s price, and may even help it go higher (at least in the short term). And Tim Cook declined his own share of the dividend (worth $75 million) for his restricted share, because taking it may show a conflict of interest.

      Any problems during that same timeframe are minor, compared to Apple’s accomplishments with Tim Cook in charge (whether as “acting” or “actual” CEO).

      For me, Tim Cook inspires nothing but confidence and trust.

  1. here cometh the sales guy …
    (or operations, for that matter)

    whats the difference anyway?
    the sales guy wants to grow revenue by selling ever more stuff to more sheep.

    the ops guy wants to grow revenue by selling stuff at an ever growing profit margin; usually by driving down costs.

    1. The “operations guy” made the $499 iPad possible, by improving Apple’s operating efficiency. Without Tim Cook, the first iPad would have had a retail price of $999 (like many of the “experts” were predicting). At that price, Apple may never have produced it (at least not back in 2010).

  2. He’s fulfilling the thermonuclear war declaration. For all we know Steve Jobs last personal request to have Samsung shoved in front of a passing bus before releasing the iTeleporter.

    1. The original Apple TV only featured 720p. 1080p playback and video output can only be enabled on the original Apple TV by installing a Broadcom CrystalHD PCI-e card and version 10.0 (Dharma) and later of XBMC running on Linux instead of the native Mac OS X 10.4.x based operating system.

        1. “TV compatibility
          Compatible with enhanced-definition or high-definition widescreen TVs capable of 1080p/1080i 60/50Hz, 720p 60/50Hz, 576p 50Hz (PAL format), or 480p 60Hz, including popular models from these manufacturers:HP, Hitachi, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, NEC, Olevia, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Polaroid, Samsung, Sony, Sharp,Toshiba, Vizio, Westinghouse”

          I still use mine every day, set at 1080p resolution.

  3. Tim Cook has done the most important thing – retained the culture of Apple, Inc.

    History shows when Leadership in an organization changes, there are often Org-chart changes, re-alignment, and in turn departure of the talent. Tim cook as retained the business units, kept the retail stores, didn’t slash the iPod line or rename iTunes.

    In short, he is taking measured steps to keep Apple on it’s course inspite of the temptation to make his mark on Apple in a challenge to the ‘greatness of Steve Jobs’.

      1. Are you kidding? Iconic names of that magnitude–that are embedded untranslated (for “better” literal comprehension of their purpose) in language and speech around the world–are to be tampered with at their peril.

        No one’s bothered that most of the discussion on MacDailyNews isn’t about computers.

  4. He hasn’t done anything to shake it, but the next 4 months are going to determine if he can improve it. Up until now he has launched basically refreshes of existing products. With the rumors of a mini iPad and/or revamped apple tv, we will see how he can handle a brand new product launch. If he can make a success of a product without piggybacking off of an existing model I’ll have greater confidence for the future.

  5. Tim isn’t perfect. We already know this, he knows this. The anger against him is uncalled for. He seems to have cut back on his store ‘optimizations’ since the outcry, which to me is a GOOD sign. As far as things we have the ability to judge him on, he is doing EXCELLENT this far: AAPL continues to skyrocket, WWDC was wonderfully presented and emotionally engaging, his interview at alltbingsd was impeccable, and he even put on a suit and that nerdy Foxconn outfit to show respect and enhance Apple’s relationship with china.

    The one suggestion I would make is to be more proactive (without being defensive) on the PR front. Apple’s competitors are having a field day painting Apple in a negative light with blatant misinformation.

  6. It wasn’t on MDN list but I’m happy with product launches with Tim Cook.

    The iPhone 4S launch was very good, lots of stock around, no major ordering problems and sold astronomical amounts over launch weekend. Same for the new iPad.

    The iPad 2 launch was a complete wreck that lasted weeks and the previous iPhones weren’t that great either.

    Maybe ops guys have their pros.

  7. A few things:

    He will respond to the average customers’ email like Steve Jobs did.

    He is maintain the values and ethics of Apple and Steve embodied.

    He kept Bob Mansfield in Apple, and promoted Federighi and Riccio. I feel is he is also keeping Ive’s and Forstall’s relationship civil and productive.

    He is actively scouting for other suppliers besides Samsung. They also got rid of Google Maps with a superior product.

  8. He has kept much of the team together.
    Apple is steady with a few minor hiccups.
    Steve Jobs didn’t leave behind an easy shoe to fill.
    Tim was/is one of the most sought after CEO in the industry, I can’t think of anyone else as replacement yet.
    He hasn’t settled.

  9. No matter what Cook does that is positive, Steve Jobs will get the credit. Whatever goes South (Browlett hire, misteps, cheaper-looking packaging, Retail bad press, lack of innovation/focus on iMac, Mac Mini and Pro, focus on profits in Retail) will be his fault.

    He is a caretaker and if reports are true about Retail, that he is pulling the strings, the sooner Forstall can take the reigns, the better.

    I knew I would be a little less evangelical about Apple once Steve died but Tim Cook does very little to arouse my love for Apple.

    Cook may keep the seat warm for several more years, as long as he does not F things up too bad, Forstall should be in a good position. If Apple loses it’s way too much under Cook, God Help Us All.

  10. Nothing.

    Want my confidence?
    1- Stop effing up Macintosh OS X- start by calling it Macintosh OS- not OS X.
    2- Release a real upgraded Mac Pro sometime before the end of time.
    3- Kill the dividend program- you are going to need the money to switch away from Samsung and there are better uses for the money.
    4- Have Apple pay it’s freaking tax bill instead of pulling a Romney and keeping it parked outside the US to dodge taxes. The US has one of the lowest EFFECTIVE corporate tax rates among OECD nations despite the high official rate Republicans always bitch about.
    5- Put some people on the executive team that are more reflective of the nation and world we live in. The American white sausagefest of the current executive team does not reflect or befit a huge multinational company.
    6- Start making your products in a way that does not inhibit end user battery installation. Form over function is vapid BS.
    7- Make a serious play for enterprise and government business- starting by fixing Mac OS Server.
    8- Open the company up somewhat and give a roadmap to help enterprise customers make wise decisions on deployment.

    1. “4- Have Apple pay it’s freaking tax bill instead of pulling a Romney and keeping it parked outside the US to dodge taxes. The US has one of the lowest EFFECTIVE corporate tax rates among OECD nations despite the high official rate Republicans always bitch about.”

      Yeah, except that Apple has already paid tax on that money in the countries it was earned in. Why should they have to pay tax again on it?

      1. Amazing how so many have been duped into worrying about multi-billion $ corporation’s tax rates- because I assure you they give not a damn about yours. Actually, they do. They have been actively working to shift ever more of the tax burden upon the individual taxpayers that lack the means (read $ for tax lawyers) to defend themselves.

        Amazing how companies are all-American when it’s time to line up at the trough but not when it is time to pay for things they get for little or nothing.

        No realistic person wants unfair taxation upon business, but they have become very good at creating- through lobbying- and then exploiting tax exemptions and loopholes. Corporate America is so conditioned to the tax welfare tit that they milk every level of government for every last nickel and then sing the song of pure capitalism.

        Someone needs to cry bullshit.

        When Henry Ford was building up Ford Motor Company he didn’t milk the city, county and state for every nickel of tax abatement, condemnation of land (to get below fair market prices from the original owner), utility extension subsidies, rebates of worker’s state income taxes (didn’t know about that one, did you), low to no interest loans, exemption from property taxes, etc. These days, every car maker seeks this and more.

        1. Amazing how you totally ignored my question and went on with your rant. Again, should Apple have to pay tax on the money earned in China to China, and then pay again to the US on bringing that money back into the US? If you go overseas to work in England for a month, should you have to pay the British tax rates plus pay the US again on the same money earned?

            1. Thanks for the information. You’re right, I was not aware. I don’t read a lot of corporate tax code.

              So I guess you can also explain this. If the US Corporate tax rate is so much lower than other countries tax rates, and the off-shore tax paid is deductible from US taxes, then Apple should go ahead and bring the money back to the US – since they would owe no US taxes, right? I mean the tax paid in the other countries is much higher than the US tax, so the deductions for it would almost completely offset any US tax, right?

              Gee, those Apple accountants must be stupid.

            2. 1-No, they can deduct foreign taxes paid from US taxes owed.
              2-The US does have a high listed tax rate, but an effective rate in-line with other OECD nations. Never said it was lower.
              3-Corporate America is trying to make a political point and get corporate rates lowered. Many are involved, but the US CoC is the prime culprit. Apple is not longer a member, but that does not preclude co-ordination.

              We don’t need a tax holiday for corporations. US corporations are sitting on in excess of $2 trillion outside the US.

    2. 1. Give it up. It’s over and it isn’t coming back.
      2. Agree.
      3. No. There is more than enough money for both. The dividend brings stability to the stock, something it sorely needed.
      4. Incorrect. The U.S. corporate tax rates are too high and debacles like Obamacare threaten to shackle business growth for as long as it lingers. There are better ways to do heathcare than by making a huge centralized federal government program:
      – Restore State Leadership and Flexibility
      – Promote Free Markets and Fair Competition
      – Empower Consumer Choice
      More info here.
      5. How about hiring the best people for the job, regardless of artificial quotas on skin color, gender, etc.? Affirmative action is institutional racism.
      6. No. Space is at a premium and these integrated battery designs actually encourage responsible recycling vs. dumping old detachable batteries into landfills (as a certified pinko tree-hugger, you should be knee-jerking all over this).
      7. Not going to happen that way. Apple will take the enterprise via BYO devices.
      8. May happen somewhat eventually, but the secrecy is still worth too much right now and “roadmaps” lead to stagnation and inflexibility.

  11. – Kept the screws to Samdung.
    – Is apparently trying to remove any dependencies on Samdung for parts (which will ultimately prove to be far more damaging to them than the lawsuit).
    – The charity stuff.
    – China, China, China.

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