Tim Cook’s mea culpa: iMac launch should have been postponed

Here’s an exchange from Apple’s Q213 COnference Call with analysts that took place last evening:

Mark Moskowitz, JPMorgan: Tim, earlier you talked about how the December quarter had a very big and broad product refresh. Were there any learning points from that experience in terms of maybe it’s better to stage or kind of stagger out launches over multi quarters versus one quarter? How should we think about that going forward?

Tim Cook, Apple CEO: That’s a good question. I don’t spend a lot of time looking back except to learn from it. If we could run it over, frankly, I would’ve announced the iMac after the turn of the year, because we felt our customers had to wait too long for that specific product. Where the iPad mini was in shortage in the month or in the quarter, in the December quarter, I would not have done that differently because we were able to get the iPad mini out to many millions of customers who really wanted that product for their holiday. So, yes, we did do a lot. Our teams fortunately can do a lot, but in retrospect, that one, I sort of wish, it were after the turn of the year, because our customers would not have had to wait as long as they did.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s good to see Cook admit that the iMac launch was botched. Such candor bodes well for Apple going forward.

As we wrote back on February 4thh:

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… 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 [anti-Apple FUD] would be floating around out there.

And, as we wrote on March 5th:

Apple is too big and too rich to screw up things like iMac availability for Christmas shopping season. This isn’t 1996. Steve Jobs would have gone on a spree with an axe. Tim Cook, operations genius, is ultimately responsible for Apple blowing some 800,000 iMac sales in fiscal Q113 (holiday quarter). (Hopefully, he blew them into this quarter.) If Apple had those iMacs ready like they should have, not two months late, then they would have handily beaten the street in all respects and we wouldn’t be having this conversation today.

Related articles:
Obviously, Apple’s autumn iMac launch was badly botched – March 19, 2013
Apple still seeing strong Mac sales growth as iMac supply constraints ease – March 18, 2013
NPD: U.S. Mac sales up 31% YOY in January; Apple looks to be catching up to iMac demand – February 25, 2013
The curious case of Tim Cook, operations genius, and the missing iMacs – February 4, 2013
iMac ship times slip again in Europe on supply issues; U.S. retailers shipping all models – February 4, 2013
Within hours of availability, shipping times for 27-inch iMac slip to 3-4 weeks – November 30, 2012

45 Comments

  1. If Apple had those iMacs ready like they should have, not two months late, then they would have handily beaten the street in all respects and we wouldn’t be having this conversation today.

    I don’t think so . The anal ysts will upgrade the target price so AAPL would still miss .

    1. It’s called leadership, you admit when you are wrong. Otherwise known as owning it. It is customary to apologize when you don’t live up to expectations or make mistakes. When you lead an org, you get the distinction of apologizing for everyones mistakes because it is your responsibility ultimately.

      Not that a sociopath like you would understand anything other than rhetoric and pseudo-macho blather. BTW Yankees SUCK..

      1. Then why does Cook claim that he would rather have introduced the new iMacs AFTER Christmas? That makes no sense whatsoever. Computer sales have always peaked at back-to-school and at xmas. Why introduce a new machine in January? To compete with the winter auto shows?

        Tim’s real failure is that he screwed up the iMac supply chain, which he doesn’t admit. His “apology” is lame.

          1. If if will make you happy, I’d have had Ballmer’s ugly head on a spike long ago if I were on the MS board.

            But I’m here to discuss Apple, and I think Apple should be doing a lot better than it is now.

  2. Lessons learned for Mr. Cook to apply going forward along with the Maps debacle. As Nietzche said “What does not kill you makes you stronger.” I suspect Cook is dealing with the pace of being CEO and managing so much more than before. Its rarified air where he is and a very lonely place indeed with Jobs gone.

  3. The biggest challenge here is managing expectations. Tim was roasted over the slow rollout of the iMac. If he had delayed the launch, he would’ve been roasted just as well.

    Damned if you…damned if yo don’t.

    It’s a tough world being Apple.

  4. For us to think Cook could have taken over where Jobs left off was a little naive of us. Cook has to learn by mistakes, too. How many of us learn from other’s mistakes?

  5. Cook was on the job long before Steve left. There were and still are a lot of people waiting for Apple to die without him, as successful as Apple is. In this economy, especially in the tech world, they are more successful than ever. How ironic that the money people and dumbed-down tech pundits would end up being the most prolific exploiters of their own “reality distortion fields.” Old heroes like Andy and Dave, as well as half the staff of Macworld aren’t helping. Money doesn’t talk, it swears.

  6. People act like Steve Jobs never had a product problem. Remember the white iPhone debacle, which took a year to get the announced white iPhone released? The delivery problems took so long with the white iPhone that even the jokes about it being late got stale.

    1. The big difference with Steve’s product problems is that Steve at least had something to offer in the stores. Besides, Apple quickly realized that white iPhones are practically irrelevant since a significant number of users install cases anyway.

      As I recall, Steve also held press conferences. During the iPhone 4 reception debacle, he showed data explaining Apple’s position, apologized to users who were disappointed, and offered a free fix for anyone who wanted it.

      Tim’s approach?
      – buy a new $50 Lightning/Dock adapter, sorry no 3rd party cables are available at any price
      – just wait until the iMacs are in stock, you can’t have it yet. I should have made you wait longer.
      – we have great stuff in the pipeline but i won’t tell you anything about it — but then immediately after Tim’s silence, Shiller announces major OS updates will be released at the WWDC in 2 months
      – A new Mac Pro is on the way. Maybe in autumn, maybe in 2014. I don’t know, I’m just doling out the product updates as slow as I possibly can.

      Cook has dramatically slowed down the pace of progress at Apple, and everyone knows it. It’s not a growth company. Cook bent over and is giving Wall Street what they want instead of giving the Apple user community what they want. And still one these boards we have Cook apologists forgiving his every misstep.

  7. “…that one, I sort of wish, it were after the turn of the year, because our customers would not have had to wait as long as they did.” ????

    MDN – QUIT defending this loser!

    Tim, would you please, please just STFU!!!!

    1. Andy, please take your own advice.

      Only an idiot would view Tim Cook as a loser just because he isn’t Steve Jobs. Or on the opinions and bloviating of wallstreet, tech journalcycsts, and analcysts.

      1. Many of us on these forums have listed many reasons why we are underwhelmed with Cook’s performance. No one, including you, have offered any reason why Cook couldn’t have handled these many issues better.

        Moreover, the intentional misspelling of the word “analyst” is juvenile. Everyone here is making assessments of Apple’s health and performance. The difference is that professional analysts have more insider information and mathematical models with which to project Apple’s future. Poo-poo them all you want, they are no worse than the blind faithful on this site. Recall MDN and many readers here projecting a $1k stock price last year? Under Cook, at this rate of product introduction, Apple will never reach $1k per share. Never.

        1. Juvenile, so what? Its a not only a great play on words, its an extremely accurate portrayal of the criminal actions of the these so called experts. In the mind of the investing public at large, the analcysts are supposed to be giving sound financial advise. The reality of the situation is that they are merely using the people and institutions they are supposed to be helping as pawns to further their own agenda, and personal gain. Deliberate manipulation and beating down of Apple is just as bad as pumping it up to $700 knowing it would drop after they started rumors with vague sources in the supply chain. Analcysts own and control the game. They destroy good companies like Apple and the retirement of true long investors without a second thought, and they are never held accountable for their outrageous and most often wrong advise. They are greedy bastards for whom nothing is ever enough, or good enough.

          Most of the ‘reasons’ offered by posters as to why Cook Must Die are usually just parroting the WS, MS, or Samsung talking points, or ranting because their personal fantasy hasn’t been filled by Apple or a third party developer.

          I don’t generally offer my opinion on what Cook should do better, or how he could have done it better because I’m just an average tech guy, not Tim Cook, or any other CEO, I’m not on the Apple board, nor do I have ‘sources’ inside Apple. Tim and the BoD, and his minions at Apple have the road map, the facts about what is happening inside, and no amount of wishful thinking will qualify me or any WS paid lackey analcyst to 2nd guess Apple, because we simply do not know what goes on inside it walls.

          BTW, why does AAPL (Much different than Apple) have to reach $1000 per share? Will that suddenly make them successful? The success of Apple does not depend on AAPL. Does the share price of AAPL have any bearing on how well my MBP or iPhone, or iPad, or iMac, or Mac mini server function? NO. So why the lamenting that AAPL will never reach 1K a share

  8. Dammit, Tim, STOP apologizing for everything! Even if mistakes were made, what people need to hear RIGHT NOW is CONFIDENCE. Every time you try to “get real” with people the stock price loses momentum. They need to know you’re driving this train and a pebble is hardly a concern.

  9. I think people are underestimating how disappointing many end users were with the new iMac, and placing too much blame for sluggish sales on supply chain issues. I’ve conversed with numerous users in numerous Mac forums, and MANY are displeased with the new iMac for the following reasons:

    1. They prematurely removed the optical drive.

    2. Placed the SD card slot in an inaccessible location, i.e., the back.

    3. There are no USB ports in a conveniently accessible location.

    4. Disabled the ability for the user to replace RAM (In one model anyway).

    Who cares how thin the iMac is! You look at it from the front 99.9% of the time anyway! At least Apple finally included an anti-glare screen like almost every other manufacturer. Now that’s progress!

    I love OS X, but am planning on keeping my 2011 for now. I’m hoping Apple will introduce a version of the iMac which does not have the aforementioned useability issues at some point in the future.

    1. Wow, removed something prematurely. Sounds like the same old warmed over re-hash of why the original iMac was going to fail. No floppy? No ADB? No SCSI? How could it possibly succeed? Or maybe this sounds more familiar, No keyboard? That makes it not a very good email machine so no one will want it.

      For every person who doesn’t like the new imac for some reason there are 3-5 people who love it for what it is, and that number will grow. 4 years from now people will wonder what the big deal about optical media was. I’m NOT one of them, but thats why I still have an older 27″ iMac and MBPs that still have the drive.

      1. Comparing the premature removal of the optical drive to the removal of the floppy drive is ludicrous. There are still $billions of sales in media on CD’s and DVD. They’re also used frequently by myself and others to rip CD’s, burn movies, burn playlists, give photos and videos to friends, backups, etc. You can’t beat a $1 movie rental at RedBox.

        You can blame abysmal iMac sales on tablets and supply chain’s, but I’m not so sure.

        1. Oh my god no! Apple doesn’t include a drive that most people don’t use anymore. It’s not like those who need one can still get one for. Less than a hundred bucks. Oh wait they can.

          Cry some more little baby. Physical media is dead, ask blockbuster..

          1. Most people still use an optical drive, which is the point. Physical media sales are still in the $billions in the U.S. alone. And the optical drive has many other uses as well. Apple is about 5 years premature in removing the optical drive. Oh, but wait, you can still buy your media from — Apple.

            And there’s still the problem of the new iMac not having a single conveniently accessible port or slot. I guess I’ll just have to cry like a baby about that as well.

            Question: How much apple juice did you drink today?

            1. More rubbish. Name one iMac since the lampshade (a decade ago) that has ports on the front or side? You cannot, because there never was one. Even the mini has all the ports on the rear of the device. People do not need cable clutter, there is a port on the keyboard for easy access of things like flash drives.

              I support hundreds of macs, the drive doesn’t get used. We started replacing MBP’s with Air’s over a year ago, do you know how many people complained? ZERO People use Netflix, hulu, youtube, vimeo, iTunes. Peoples cd collections have long since been ripped.

              You are just gripping to gripe. Floppy redux. Time to embrace the future..

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