How Tim Cook is like Steve Ballmer

“It’s worth pointing out that Apple is not the only big tech company where there seems to be a disconnect, at least a superficial one, between the doom-saying of some investors and the company’s financial performance,” Nick Wingfield writes for The New York Times.

“For many investors, Steve Ballmer, the chief executive of Microsoft, has long been one of tech’s favorite villains. His company’s stock has lost 43 percent in value since he got Microsoft’s top job on Jan. 13, 2000. Periodically, pundits, investors and even former executives call for Mr. Ballmer to get the boot,” Wingfield writes. “During the 13 years Mr. Ballmer has led Microsoft, though, annual revenue at the company has grown 221 percent, to $73.72 billion, and profit has jumped 80 percent, to $16.98 billion. In comparison, during Mr. Cook’s 20 months as Apple’s chief executive, the company’s annual revenue has grown 45 percent, to $156.51 billion, while profits have jumped 61 percent, to $41.73 billion.”

Wingfield writes, “It’s too soon to tell whether Apple can shake off the disaffection of investors. The case of Mr. Ballmer and Microsoft, though, suggests that a company can be stuck in investor purgatory for a long time even if it keeps up profit and revenue growth.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Cook is growing what Steve Jobs built. Ballmer is coasting on what Gates’ stole from Apple way back when. One company clearly has a bright future, the other has missed every major tech market for the last decade. Zune, Kin, Windows Phone, Surface, Vista, 8ista… the list of Ballmer’s debacles goes on and on.

On his watch, Tim forgot to have Forstall label Apple Maps “beta” and the new iMacs were two months late. That’s about the litany of his mistakes. Obviously, there are big differences between Tim Cook and Ballmer T. Clown.


  1. Investors, the king makers? I think not. They’re just upset they’re not getting richer, fast enough. They’re just trying to make up for their loses with the FaceBook IPO.

  2. Apple stock is basically following most companies, with the exception that Apple almost died before Jobs came back: Apple introduced fantastically innovative products (hit after hit after hit) and the stock soared, the value skyrocketed, and earnings shot through the roof.

    Then Apple leveled off. No new, game-changing innovative products for a couple of years (no, the iPad mini is not a game-changing product, not when the iPad already existed). Apple keeps selling its fantastic products at brisk levels, but the astronomical growth is not there.

    What analysts fail to recognize is that Apple is still growing. It’s just not a guaranteed money-maker for hedge fund managers any longer. Apple is much more like a blue chip stock at this point, and while it could enter another growth phase with another game-changing product, that’s not likely.

    So Wall Street hammers Apple right now because it’s mad that they can’t just throw money at Apple and turn automatic profits on the right hand, probably to offset their other losses incurred by the left hand.

  3. That’s all the mistakes you could think up for Cook?

    What about all the stale products that are 1+ years beyond normal product update cycle?

    What about the awkward, expensive, poorly implemented Lightning replacement for the traditional dock connector — you know, the new connector that has practically no 3rd party support now?

    What about all the software screw-ups?

    Rotating executive doors?

    Inability to make any headway into potential Mac enterprise markets or defend iOS market share?

    How about the inconvenient fact that Apple doesn’t score a single green light on the MR Buyer’s guide???

    … and we just have another half hour until we watch Cook squirm to explain how he can miss profit estimates despite hitting revenue targets. There are only two typical reasons that record revenue wouldn’t also usher in record profits:
    1) the company is investing hugely in capacity expansion or new product release; or
    2) the company leadership has been so poor that it is wasting cash on frivolous or non-value-added activities, or implementing expensive fixes to problems that wise leadership would have avoided.

    Since #1 doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon, # 2 seems more likely. iPhone delays. expensive frivolous ring-shaped office buildings. late release after late release. endless promises to someday update the Mac Pro, fix Maps, etc.

    I am simply not impressed with Cook’s leadership, and nobody defending Cook has given a single explanation of why all these issues continue to go unresolved. “just wait” doesn’t cut it anymore.

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