What the heck is Angela Ahrendts doing at Apple?

“On a visit to Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, Fortune spoke with Ahrendts, 55, and her boss, CEO Tim Cook, about her role and their longer-term plans,” Jennifer Reingold reports for Fortune. “The first in-depth interview Ahrendts has given at Apple… reveals a lot about the company’s evolving philosophy.”

“What Cook hired her for was not just her retail savvy—after all, Apple’s stores were already the most profitable in the world—but also her leadership. Ahrendts is the kind of person who can conjure passion from people selling scarves, trench coats, or — now — wearable computers disguised as watches. Says Sir John Peace, chairman of Burberry and Standard Chartered: ‘She motivates people. She inspires people. And she is the sort of person who wants to see things succeed as a team. It’s a rare quality,'” Reingold reports. “Ahrendts believes the key to the company’s future is not just marvelous products, but also engaging and energizing its nearly 100,000 employees, 60% of whom now work in the $21.5 billion retail division. ‘If you’re going to employ people anyway,’ she says, ‘why not make them the differentiator? They’re not a commodity.'”

“It has slowly become clear that Cook, who took over just before Jobs’ death in 2011, is developing broader goals, in which the company uses its success to accelerate social change. The ideas, it seems, are just taking shape, but they involve enlarging the role of its stores. Apple has always intended for each of them to be a community center; now Cook and Ahrendts want them to be the community center,” Reingold reports. “The introverted Cook lights up when asked how Ahrendts has done in her 16 months at Apple. ‘It felt like she’d been here a decade her first day,’ he says. ‘I knew she was going to be off the charts, but she’s even more off the charts than I thought. She came in so fast, there was no [learning] curve. I’ve never met a single individual like that before.'”

Tons more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Cook’s best hire to date. Plus, if he, God forbid, ever got hit by a bus, she could slide right into the CEO position. Of that, we have no doubt. Ahrendts’ track record is stellar. Having two world-class CEOs in the executive suite should give Apple shareholders a strong sense of security. Just as Jobs had Cook, Cook has Ahrendts.

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54 Comments

  1. I hope Ms. Ahrendts can convince the Apple ruling class to ditch the 16GB iPhone and up it to 32 GB at the same price. Now that would give me a sense of security. 16GB is what I would expect from a cheap Android phone.

    1. Agree, it is a joke to say that the new iPhones have everything changed and they still have a 16Gb model. There is nothing wrong with the other options, 64 and 128, but when you are looking for reasonable requirements for an iPhone the 16Gb shouldn´t exist.

      1. People shouldn’t be down-voting this 16Gb problem just because it’s a criticism of Apple. This one is a particularly valid one. Personally I don’t think Apple will do this again. I think they’ve been afraid that a lot of people would be too satisfied with 32Gb and not opt for the other higher storage models. I always want as much storage as I can lay my hands on. 256Gb anyone?

    2. Apple makes a 16GB iPhone because certain classes of customers want them. Corporations buying hundreds, or thousands, at a time for their employees may have a very limited and focused business use that doesn’t require much storage. Others, like my wife, are base-function users. Music and photos stay in the cloud, and she doesn’t add Apps. Apple needs a “low cost” model for those looking for a “low cost” option, and, while it wouldn’t serve me, the 16GB iPhone DOES function, and can perform well in specific use cases. By now you all should know that Apple isn’t shy about dropping products that don’t sell (5c). They wouldn’t still be making the 16GB iPhone if there wasn’t a market for it.

    3. 16GB version is just a promotional ad strategy for tech review sites who compare “just the numbers.”

      For iPhone users who only use the iPhone for voice, messaging and a few key apps, with only ocassional photos and videos, 16GB is fine. 2 iPhones in our house are 16 GB and we don’t think about it.

      1. Same here. 16Gb works fine for me. I don’t have a whole lot of apps, have a fair amount of music, and don’t really care about the camera (I have a new Canon for pics). I’ve run up against the memory ceiling occasionally, but man, nothing like the old 8Gb days.

        I don’t see what the hate for 16Gb is all about. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. It’s not a moral issue. It’s just your preferences screaming that other people should be denied choices because of your endless vanity to proclaim yourself alpha geeks. That’s pretty much it, right?

    4. She’s just at Apple for a face of female diversity. Probably nothing more than that. Apple can parade her around showing she has a top spot at Apple and she seems to have a nice personality and friendly smile. That’s probably all she has to do to get paid handsomely.

  2. A retail boss who makes her workers feel valued—what a concept! “They’re not a commodity.” There is something almost subversive in that style of leadership, inspiring people to get back to work joyfully, instead of standing around the water cooler bitching about management.

  3. The dingleberry that gives Josh a down vote is a dumb-axe fanboi. Apple releases a potent upgrade to the camera, encouraging and requiring on-deck storage and the entry level sku is still a 16GB. I would call that incongruent.

    1. To a hateful old crank like you it may appear that way.

      Sounds like she is a stellar individual with a keen intellect. It also demonstrates that Apple is committed to continual improvement in ALL facets. Happy employees, better work environments makes it easier to attract and retain talent.

  4. As one who owns a 16GB iPhone I can assure people that such storage is not adequate even with the older camera and NO video and very little music stored on my phone. When I travel I have to remove a number of apps I figure I won’t be using so as to ensure I have adequate photo space. Not so good.

    I will probably keep my old 4s for now since spending over $600 for a phone, any phone, is not in my budget. But, if you have the cash, go for it. To each his own.

    1. It’s too bad Apple doesn’t sell a higher capacity iPhone that you could’ve chosen to buy instead. Meanwhile everyone in my extended family, except for me, is using less than 16GB.

      The 16GB iPhone works perfectly well for people who don’t care to store media on the iPhone and only have a couple of apps. There are a lot of people like this as well as a lot of corporations that only want the 16GB iPhone.

      For me, I filled up my 128GB iPhone the moment I got it.

  5. If she is so good at stirring passion, why isn’t she on stage? Tim Cook is certainly good at keeping the trains running on-time and the executives happy, but it’s a good thing he’s out there selling a product that sells itself.

    1. Did you watch yesterday’s keynote? Exactly what part of that should she have been on stage for?

      She represents the retail stores. They were not part of the consumer product announcements, thus no reason to have her on stage anymore than the CFO.

      1. If Ahrendts is so great (which we all should know by now that she isn’t), she should have replaced Cook on stage.

        Cook once again bored the non-fanboy audience. His repeated attempts at enthusiasm while pacing back and forth reading teleprompters is really second-rate. He appears not to understand what “incredible” means, but that’s his go-to adjective for everything.

        Jobs may have been a tough act to follow, but Cook clearly doesn’t have any eye for details. He isn’t qualified to give technical info and he didn’t share any sales or availability info on practically anything — not even a mention of Apple’s single most important product, OS X.

        The most Cook should do is open and close the event, because he’s just giving more ammo to Apple doubters. Nobody gives a shit about rose gold colored aluminum or the fact that Apple finally cooperated with a real luxury brand to offer decent leather straps for the Apple Watch. Cook did absolutely nothing to dispel doubts — so he might as well check out and let Angie earn her fat salary.

        1. “If Ahrendts is so great (which we all should know by now that she isn’t), she should have replaced Cook on stage. “

          That’s pretty idiotic considering Cook is the CEO, and Ahrendts just represents the retails stores.

          How about having Ahrendts only speak on things that she’s involved with the way everyone else was on stage?

            1. Her primary role is running Apple retail (which includes accessories). You replied to my comment out of context. My comment was how utterly idiotic it would’ve been for Ahrendts to replace Cook, since Cook is the CEO and represents the whole of the company, while Ahrendts primarily represents Apple retail, which the event didn’t cover.

              Sure, she could’ve come out for 10 seconds and introduced the Hermès bands, but that would’ve been highly distracting and made it about her instead of the Apple Watch.

              Really, this whole thread is as idiotic as could be. Anyone who’s seen Ahrendts deliver a presentation knows she’s highly charismatic and capable, but again, she’s not the CEO, nor the head of any product that was shown during the event.

              What’s next, am I going to be asked why she wasn’t the one doing the Excel demo on the new iPad, or how incompetent she must be because she wasn’t kicking butt on stage with Crossy Road?

    2. She isn’t on stage because, as you have said, she isn’t inspirational. Or, simply that she is female and lacks the appropriate genitalia. It’s still an old boys club, even if some members prefer boys.

  6. “Ahrendts believes the key to the company’s future is not just marvelous products, but also engaging and energizing its nearly 100,000 employees”

    The enthusiasm I see at the Apple Store I visit shows that she is succeeding at this!

  7. ” Just as Jobs had Cook, Cook has Ahrendts ”
    And her butt kissing mdn goes again again her being ceo while everyone knows that’s not was she ever was, or should ever be, why should she, just cuz she’s grossly over paid and really does nothing but piss people off always getting in the way, sending out stupid “inspiring” messages at Christmas time that’s not worthy of news coverage, but mdn praises it, then turns around and slams other companies, mdn=hypocrite. Give some of the millions upon millions upon millions upon millions you get every year and miss ceo and give it the employees, give them the big raise every year, and give yourself even just one million a year, instead of what…70! What a joke. Then people would like all your bs Xmas wishes, and when you stop by a store. Go away useless Ahrendts, you’ve taken more than your fair share of money out of the employees hands, the ones who really make the company what it is, not you and your just over a year there, it was already the biggest company in the world without you, you’ve done zero to make the company as big as it is today. Go run for president of the USA, mdn will praise that too, then slam the other actually competent candidates.

    1. Why so angry Bro? Don’t like women leaders?

      Don’t like inspiration, you prefer to be a pessimistic, negative, turd? Maybe you should look in the mirror and worry about your own failings.

      1. I like Ahrendts but hate the Hillary, or Billary. Just like men we need COMPETENT leaders (male OR female) and not hack dishonest ones regardless of party. The Clinton Clan shows itself as intensely political, power hungry, smarmy, revolting and as unapologetic lying SOS. Bill decided he could play the immoral, adulterous card with impunity while in office and was impeached for it. And it wasn’t his first marriage-breaching rodeo. We need to clear the presidential decks of the Clintoni & Bushi types!

        Sorry didn’t mean to veer into the political on an Apple site. We all get enough of that elsewhere.

    2. Why don’t any of the employees who want to make more money study harder in school and work harder in their careers to get to the level where she’s at?

      She wasn’t born into wealth, she went to a public high school, then went to Ball State. Her performance on the job record is what got her to where she is today.

      There are few people in the world with her record of proven ability. To get those people, you have to pay the big bucks. It’s just that simple.

      1. Nice narrative. The most productive, insightful, educated people I know are not multi-millionaire corporate executives. Why? Because the elite salary winners don’t do the work — they skim the profits from the deals. To pretend that hard work and solid education guarantees you anything more than a comfortable middle-class life is fantasy. Billionaires — all of them — admit that luck and connections — not skill and hard work alone — are what made the difference.

        Oh, and what exactly does she do all day to earn her pay? Point to one impressive thing that Apple Retail has done. Copy watch displays from other luxury shops? Take appointments? Who-hoo.

        1. “The most productive, insightful, educated people I know are not multi-millionaire corporate executives.”

          Flip that around… how many CEOs (or top corporate executives) aren’t well educated over-achievers? Every single Harvard or Stanford MBA I know who then went on to grind away at work has become successful.

          “Billionaires — all of them — admit that luck and connections — not skill and hard work alone — are what made the difference.”

          Luck certainly plays a role, but only to an extent. The fact remains that if you go to any of the Apple retail stores, you’re going to be hard pressed to find someone working the floor at bottom wages who worked their ass off in high school, continued on at a top 4 year school, followed by an MBA, all while interning and then dove in fully committed to a career the way the most top executives and CEOs have.

          Sure, there are plenty of cases like say Trump, who inherited their wealth and position (and has a net opportunity loss), but when you have someone like Ahrendts who actually did work hard in her education and did work hard in her career, and does have an extensive track record of accomplishment, how can you compare her to the bottom wage earners who did none of that and cry “unfair”?

          “Oh, and what exactly does she do all day to earn her pay?”

          Did you not read the article?

    3. I don’t really want to answer most of your post but just comment on Ahrendts salary.

      her first year salary was very high because Apple made up for all the lost bonuses she would have got if she finished her contract with her previous employer, bonuses which were very high because burberry stock increased something like 300% under her. Apple needed a retail leader immediately as it was vacant for so long and thought it was worth making up her bonuses and grabbing her before her term was up.

      Her first year salary was higher than TCs.
      i don’t think following years she will get so much although probably still very high.

      To me Apple online retail websites which she also runs is way better now. I don’t think she is in charge of iTunes , app stores though.

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