How Tim Cook waged Steve Jobs’ thermonuclear war and dismantled Android

“It would be fair to say that Steve Jobs did not like Samsung’s smartphone team,” Ewan Spence writes for Forbes. “He promised all of Apple’s resources would be deployed in a ‘thermonuclear war’ against the South Korean company. Tim Cook’s Apple never followed up on Jobs’ threat… at least not directly. Cook defused the nukes, instead relying on a long strategic play to neuter not just Samsung, but the impact of Android.”

“Just as America negated the Cold War through patience, propaganda, and technical prowess, Tim Cook has neutered Android’s economic threat to Apple through guile, suppression, and finesse,” Spence writes. “I’ve already spoken about one of the plays made by Apple and Tim Cook to damage Android. This was the push to 64-bit computing in the iPhone 5S. As that smartphone was announced, the roadmaps for Android devices did not have 64-bit computing planned in the near future… Apple weakened the chipsets in Android by forcing the manufacturers to follow them on the 64-bit roadmap. Resources, time, and developmental energies were directed away from competing directly with Apple and into something that has taken far longer than planned.”

“The latest component to be ring-fenced by Apple is the fingerprint sensor, denying the Nexus 6 this signature feature,” Spence writes. “It’s not just this sensor that Apple has control of. Cupertino has made a significant investment in buying up supplies of synthetic sapphire, it hedges DRAM as efficiently as Southwest hedges aviation fuel, it is first in line for touch panels, and even air freight for just-in-time shipping is booked out in advance, forcing competitors shipments onto slower land and sea routes.”

“If you’re competing against Apple, you’re not going to be allowed to fight with the best components, because Tim Cook reserved them years ago when he was in charge of Apple’s operations,” Spence writes. “Apple has the best components, a lead in many areas of technology that can create almost magical devices, and most importantly, all of these background actions are achieved in concert with creating the best smartphone it can possibly make and then putting it on sale in vast numbers.”

Read more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Most everything about this article is correct (read the full article, it’s recommended), except for the headline (“Tim Cook Defused Steve Jobs’ Thermonuclear War, Then He Took Down Android”) and its premise that Tim Cook is doing anything differently than exactly what Jobs wanted.

Steve Jobs said: I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.

Nothing Cook has done goes against Jobs’ vow. In fact, Jobs and Cook could have easily planned this strategy – and likely did. Therefore, we’ve written our headline accordingly.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Arline M.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple’s inimitable iPhone may be starting to steal Android’s lower-income users – January 30, 2015
Apple puts the big hurt on Samsung – January 30, 2015
Over 85% of new iPhone sales are switchers, mostly from Android – January 30, 2015
Apple’s thermonuclear assault on Samsung vaporizes Android’s remaining profit pillar – January 30, 2015
Analysts: Apple has beaten Samsung to become world’s largest smartphone vendor – January 29, 2015
Apple iPhone No. 1 in China smartphone market share – January 27, 2015
Study: iPhone users are smarter and richer than those who settle for Android phones – January 22, 2015
Why Android users can’t have the nicest things – January 5, 2015
iPhone users earn significantly more than those who settle for Android phones – October 8, 2014
Yet more proof that Android is for poor people – June 27, 2014
More proof that Android is for poor people – May 13, 2014
Android users poorer, shorter, unhealthier, less educated, far less charitable than Apple iPhone users – November 13, 2013
IDC data shows two thirds of Android’s 81% smartphone share are cheap junk phones – November 13, 2013
CIRP: Apple iPhone users are younger, richer, and better educated than those who settle for Samsung knockoff phones – August 19, 2013
iPhone users smarter, richer than Android phone users – August 16, 2011
Study: Apple iPhone users richer, younger, more productive than other so-called ‘smartphone’ users – June 12, 2009


  1. The lawsuits put ScamSunk’s obvious and deliberate copying in the public eye. Many watched to see if/how SunSkunk would continue to copy Apple. The only real advantage ShameSkunk had was the size of their phones, with the iPhone 6/6+, that advantage is also gone. And none have been able to successfully copy the iApples’s ecosystem. 😄

  2. It is clear now that Apple did not just bank on lawsuits being able to stop Android’s copying.
    So they did what has always worked: Innovate and control component supply.
    This is what America needs to follow. Stay ahead of the competition by being more advanced. This takes investment by both industry and for basic research. Industry to implement new developments and basic research to bring on the next set of innovations.

  3. About the fingerprint sensor: the article has only half the story correct: apple got there first with the best supplier. True. But he left off the most important part: Apple has told me that my fingerprint data stays on the chip and goes nowhere. I TRUST APPLE NOT TO MISUSE MY FINGERPRINT DATA. Would I trust Microsoft, Google or Samsung with that data? Not on your life.

    Once that trust is established then things like ApplePay are possible.

  4. “He promised all of Apple’s resources would be deployed in a ‘thermonuclear war’ against the South Korean company…”

    SJ wanted thermonuclear war on Android, not explicitly Samsung. Is it so difficult to quote correctly ??

    1. Apparently so.
      Also, Steve prefaced his original comment saying “*If* it were my decision, which it isn’t, I’d use all of Apple’s resources …” This preamble can apparently be ignored for sake of writing a sensational story as click bait.
      What can also be seen is that Steve once he gave his complete faith to people he expected the same in return. It was perhaps naive and led him to being scammed by Bill Gates(via Claris Works) and later by Eric Schmidt (Android) who acted as moles to steal confidential IP from Apple. Toward them he quite rightly felt utterly robbed and openly wished for revenge.
      The legal fight with Samsung has been mostly TIm Cook’s and has revolved around obvious copycat styling, not the software nor moles, but that’s not as good a story.
      Tim Cook is doing his own thing. He is not copying Steve. Steve expressly told him not to. I guess they forgot that too.

    2. Yes. But Samsung is the largest Android device vendor.
      Also, if A = B, and B = C, then A = C.

      Thus, conflating Samsung with Android is a venial sin, not a mortal sin.

    1. “Thermonuclear” is inaccurate.

      Strategic acquisition of resources, superior design are supply chain issues and finally finding the customers. This is more about combat design (see War College or other places).

      Thermonuclear is intimidation of the enemy.

      Instead, Apple was positive to the customers.

      Just because Steve Jobs said thermonuclear does not make the term the proper one. Its not.

    2. Rarely does Apple enter a declining market.
      And “Search” is a declining market.
      Same with TVs.
      Well, unless Apple can find a way to improve search-results without mass-collection of user-data and selling said user-data to the highest bidder, at the same time coming up with a business-model that makes this business self-sustained without subsidizing it from their hw-business.
      I really wonder how much a subscription-only, no-ads search-engine would cost – and how much such a subscription would be worth to myself.

  5. ‘Nothing Cook has done goes against Jobs’ vow. In fact, Jobs and Cook could have easily planned this strategy – and likely did. Therefore, we’ve written our headline accordingly.’

    Listen, I’m a fan of Steve Jobs and all he’s done, but to think that Cook can’t come up with strategies on his own and has to consult a man on his death bed is kind of ridiculous.

    Why can’t MDN give some credit to Cook and his team? Credit has to be given to Jobs, for all we know, would have spent all that money trying to defeat Android.

    For all we know, Jobs wouldn’t want a smaller iPad or a larger screen iPhone.

    Really dumb MDN.

  6. Even with all the technology and supply chain magic behind the scenes, the launch of larger screen iPhones (the most obvious aspect to the customers) was the turning point on Apple destroying Samsung’s (and Android-based phone makers’) business.
    So here’s a question: Did Apple rope-a-dope Samsung? I.e. delay the larger screen iPhones an extra year(?) not for chip & battery issues, but so that when they were released they had an amplified impact? Letting Samsung (et al.) grow their fundamentally unsustainable business even bigger, so that when the fall came, it was further, harder, and more damaging?
    Or was it just a happy coincidence?

  7. It makes fun reading to present all that Apple has done as carrying out Steve Jobs’ commitment to wage war against Samsung/Android but I think that’s fundamentally wrong, just as it’s fundamentally wrong to point out that Apple now has roughly equalled Samsung’s market share.

    Apple plays the game its way, stays laser-focussed on making products that “customers love to use.” While we know that Apple has great intelligence about what its competitors are doing, I remain convinced that since Steve Jobs’ return, and now under Tim Cook, Apple includes features and improves hardware and supply chain and all that it does to get its wonderful products and services to every customer who wants one (or two, three, four) as quickly as it can. We all know that Apple could have sold way more iPhones this quarter if it had simply been able to make them.

    That this has the side benefit of crushing the competition, I’m sure that’s just icing on the cake. The goal was never to crush the competition (except for that brief Quixotic experience with the courts). The goal was, and remains, make great products and build great services that customers love to use.

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