The curious case of Tim Cook, operations genius, and the missing iMacs

Bloomberg Contributing Editor Paul Kedrosky discusses the Apple iMac shipping delays on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.”

Paul Kedrosky: This [iMac situation] is, at best puzzling, and, at worst, a condemnation of what’s happening inside the company because it speaks you both managing the supply chain, sure, but also just the straight up manufacturablity of their products. If you’re unable to manufacture products that you’re speccing, at the volumes that you anticipate selling, that suggests that your selling products that you haven’t gone though the right manufacturing validation for – and that goes directly to Tim Cook’s feet.

I think what’s happening is that the company is losing sight of manufacturability when builds product and you can say what;s probably happening is that Jony Ives [sic] is increasingly, you know, running the show; we’re getting some lovely, aesthetically-designed products, but there’s no tension on the other side saying, “Hey, wait a minute, Jony, this product; we’re going to have problems here, here, here, and here in terms of getting enough units of flat panels or memory or whatever else and so, as a result, the manufacture of these products is probably going to be poor and we’re going to have problems satisfying our customers which means that, they’re not just going to wait around for us, they’re going to go somewhere else.

MacDailyNews Take: Kedrosky doesn’t understand Mac users, that much is sure.

Paul Kedrosky: What I think you’re really seeing under the hood here, is sort of the , you know, usurping a great deal of the executive control at Apple by the design staff led by Jony Ives [sic] and, as a result, what Apple used to be good at, which was this tension between design and manufacturability, with manufacturability led by Cook, that’s gone. Now it’s: “Let’s build pretty stuff and maybe one day we can figure out how to ship it in volume” and it’s shareholders who are finding out the consequences of that.

Direct link to video here.

MacDailyNews Take: Does Kedrosky offer proof to back up his claims? Nope. Until we see some actual proof, this remains just a little fiction spun entirely in Kedrosky’s head. Apple screwed up with the iMac supply. Everyone knows it. Nobody knows why. This is because Apple insists on sitting there mum and, as they will hopefully someday finally figure out, in the absence of information, information will be created to fill the void.

Kedrosky is offering his explanation. He doesn’t understand the level of Mac users’ loyalty and he confuses iPhone users with Mac users, to boot. He doesn’t even know Jony Ive’s name; it’s “Ive,” not “Ives.” (Burl Ives, Jony Ive, m’kay, Paul?) Plus Kedrosky offers no proof that iPhone users went elsewhere during initial product shortages. In fact, all of the verifiable proof we have says otherwise:

• Apple tops Samsung, becomes largest mobile phone vendor in U.S. in Q4 2012 – February 1, 2013
Almost half of Verizon’s record iPhone sales were Apple iPhone 5 units – January 22, 2013
• Apple iPhone continues lead with 51.2% U.S. market share as Android users increasingly switch to iPhone – January 22, 2013
Apple iPhone takes 53.3% of U.S. smartphone sales, Android falls to 41.9% – January 7, 2013

In the end, however, Kedrosky cannot be blamed for weaving whatever fairy tale he wants to weave; it’s Apple’s institutionalized cone of silence that’s to blame for creating the information vacuum in the first place. In other words, just tell us that the friction-stir welding process (or whatever) ran into an unforeseen snag and that you’re working on the issue and hope to have iMacs in customers’ hands ASAP, Apple. It’s okay to simply admit and explain the issues to customers, Apple. We’ll understand. Really, we will.

With such a simple statement, none of this soap opera bovine excrement would be floating around out there.

Related article:
Paul Kedrosky on what’s gone wrong at Apple: Power balance has been altered – February 2, 2013


  1. when I saw the 21.5″ design I thought “Apple, you just lost a sale” Ok I can do without a DVD drive, but putting the SD card on the BACK…what a stupid idea. I use SD cards all the time, I don’t want to be standing up leaning over the back of the machine or turning the whole thing around….just to get at the slot in a convenient fashion. Then there is the HD in 2.5″ size, maximum capacity 1TB. So to get anything worthwhile, you HAVE to cough up Apple prices on RAM, Fusion Drive etc.
    Total bollocks design. I mean WHO needs an ultrathin desktop computer? Just an extra 10mm would have given us a side mount SD slot and probably enough space inside for a decent 3.5″ drive, Fusion or not.

    1. Agreed! the 21.5″ model is DOA. Can’t up grade memory, what a crock when paying all the money for an Apple not to be able to add RAM. The last 25 years the RAM has been the most important upgrade you can do to a computer. 1st time buyers who aren’t aware of this will most likely be mightily upset and view these as toys instead of serious computers.

    1. Apple has not sold a 17″ version of the iMac for quite a while. Perhaps you confused them when you placed your order 😉

      On a more serious note, Apple rolled out a lot of new/updated product lines in the fall, and they definitely pushed state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities in some areas. I am sorry to hear so many unhappy customer stories. but it sounds like Apple is finally getting its at together. This is not the first time that Apple has had supply problems with a new design, but i hope that it is the last.

  2. This article was written by a professional?!?!?


    It has enough spelling and grammar errors to make the baby Jesus cry!

    I can’t take this guy seriously.

  3. This is all Apple has to do……

    Create a page called “Steve Jobs Middle Finger”, complete with a cutout picture the young SJ in front of the IBM building, and then add a list of articles that deserve it in the back ground to the picture.

    That would be an instant comment from Apple discrediting any such stupid articles, and all done without saying a word.

  4. “Kedrosky doesn’t understand Mac users, that much is sure.”

    MDN is absolutely wrong about this one. Yes the core Mac users will wait. However, the majority of those who might buy a Mac just won’t. Apple *IS* losing sales over this. It is *NOT* just sales put off until a later date.

    Three months after announcement and the wait on shipping times is still up to four weeks (or more)? Many, many possible purchasers of Macs just WILL NOT wait!

    I have not seen this much stupidity in the supply chain since the days when no one could accurately describe the difference between a Performa 6400 and a Performa 6410!

    Apple needs to fix this ASAP.

  5. It is more than ridiculous that the new iMacs are not available in volume by now. Sorry, there are no suitable excuses. What concerns me is if they are having production issues, how good is the product they are shipping? Are the problems really fixed or will they show up during use? The concern about design pushing the capability of the production processes is legitimate. After 45 years in manufacturing, I have seen things that still make me cringe when I think back on them.

  6. … own brick & mortar? Almost two weeks ago I stopped by the local store and asked about a pair of 27″ models. Had the less powerful one, the more powerful was in short supply – and not currently in stock. Called late last week – “yeah, at least one of each”. Got down there and they had my wife’s 2.9GHz model and my … 3.4GHz i7? With the Fusion Drive and the 780MX graphics card? “Sorry, don’t have a 3.2 i5 available, want to wait? &$)) *(, I’ll take it! It’s been upgrade purgatory since.
    There are no real problems with the 21.5″ models. There are NO 17″ models! And the 27″ models with the 3.2GHz i5s are back-ordered. Perhaps the problem is with the faster CPUs?

  7. It has to be the display bonding and the welding process. Getting a computer this thin has to be a bitch. Should have been realized up front. That extra half inch of thinness is costing Apple, big time. Not just in sales dollars, but company trustworthiness. And that affects the stock price, which seems to be why many listen to MDN’s cheerleading. Sometimes Apple screws up. This is a big one.

  8. I’ve recently realized — Tim Cook is no OPERATIONS GENIUS, I’m a significant shareholder that is very disappointed with the recent blunder after blunder on hardware (iMac iPhone 5, iPad Mini) which is supposed to be TC field of expertise–doesn’t appear that way !

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