Rating Tim Cook’s first five years as Apple CEO

“Tim Cook was left with one of the hardest acts to follow in the history of business when he succeeded Steve Jobs as Apple‘s chief executive in August 2011,” Tim Bradshaw reports for The Financial Times. “Just six weeks after Mr Cook’s appointment, Mr Jobs succumbed to pancreatic cancer, with many fearing Apple would go into decline — the vision and genius that had inspired the company’s revival dying with him.”

“Instead, in the five years since, Mr Cook has slowly had to define his own Apple. It has become a company in some ways more open and approachable, even as its valuation surged, at one point, to new all-time highs for any company in the world,” Bradshaw reports. “”

“Yet despite reporting the most profitable quarter ever in January last year thanks to the huge success of the iPhone 6, some critics continue to challenge whether Mr Cook can ever deliver the same kind of technological breakthroughs as his predecessor. In 2012, he was forced to apologise for the bungled debut of Apple Maps, something he now admits was ‘clearly a screw-up.’ In 2014, he unveiled a range of new products including the Apple Watch and Apple Pay, but the company is still more dependent on the iPhone for revenue growth and profits,” Bradshaw reports. “The iPhone’s huge success also makes it difficult for any other Apple product to stand out. ‘For any other consumer electronics company, the Apple Watch would be a success beyond their wildest dreams,’ Ben Wood of CCS Insight says. ‘Juxtaposed against the iPhone it looks like a disappointment.'”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Anything juxtaposed against iPhone looks like a disappointment. With the Apple Watch requiring an iPhone, of course it will sell fewer units. Not every iPhone owner buys extra iCloud storage or an Apple Music membership, either. Apple Watch is a stellar product that will make the naysayer’s quotes incredibly humorous to revisit in a few short years.

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook
We give Cook a solid B+. Things like the half-baked Apple TV with its half-assed/designed-by-an-intern Siri Remote would have never been released under Steve Jobs. Period. We also would have had numerous Mac updates by now just to freshen things up (and boost sales) under Jobs, too. The “S” naming of iPhone would likely have been recognized as Apple explicitly hamstringing their own product (we can hear Jobs saying, “Why not just call it ‘iPhone No Big Deal’ every other year, Phil?”).

That said, overall, we’ve gotten the very promising Apple Watch, with rapid advancements in watchOS and software and new hardware coming. We finally got iPhones with properly-sized displays in iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. We now have Continuity across platforms. Apple has made strong advances in services. Apple Music arrived (with a piss poor UX that Jobs would have sent back to the drawing board, not released). We got Browettized, but then we got the stellar Angela Ahrendts, a very successful CEO in her own right. We got Apple Maps. Yeah, um… but, then we got a raft of improvements to Apple Maps, still a work in progress. Apple released the new MacBook, which is simply one of the most amazing Macs ever made. We did get the very Jobsian Mac Pro (which, sadly, Cook then left to languish for years – eons in tech time).

Most importantly, though, we got a strong stance for liberty and privacy with Apple’s stances on the sanctity of personal data, security, and strong encryption. Cook’s backbone on that, in the face of U.S. government opposition up to the president, earns extra credit that erases many mistakes.

So, it’s a B+ for Cook. Very good with clear room for improvement.

Apple CEO Cook has remained faithful to Steve Jobs’ legacy – now, can he transcend it? – August 23, 2016
Jim Cramer: Apple CEO Tim Cook ‘gets very little credit’ – August 23, 2016
Tim Cook: Five years as Apple’s CEO – August 22, 2016
Woz on Tim Cook’s first 5 years as Apple CEO: ‘I am very happy with the way Apple is going’ – August 19, 2016


  1. Running a company the size of Apple is an enormously difficult job and Tim Cook has done it well. But no one can do everything perfectly. I’m sure Steve Jobs would have had his share of problems over the last five years.

    But Apple useablity has taken a hit and they’ve got to make up some ground in that sense. Cook needs a trusted user advocate in the fold. That’s not Jony Ive, whose elegant sense of design often overrides the ability to actually use things. Such a user advocate will be hard to find: it’s got to be someone with the ability to say “no” and make it stick. That person has to really understand the user and sensible workflows and to know what’s important enough to keep (and what’s confusing enough to ditch). I don’t have a clue who that might be, but I hope Cook can find him or her.

  2. Obviously, someone out there has eyed on to become Apple CEO for the past five years, there was a campaign to unmount Tim Cook from his current position, however; TC continues earning mountain of profits and cash-hoarding for Apple, so the task to bring Cook down take a little longer than anticipated but if he’s patient enough, he would succeed to bring Cook down in the future, just a matter of time. In my humble opinion.

  3. The should have a rating of the analysts and jouranalists that have been reporting on Apple since Tim Cook took the helm, but unfortunately you can’t go below an F grade and for most of them that would be an improvement.

  4. Hey, let’s compare Cook against Ballmer, Dell, IBM, the BB Co-CEOs, Ex-CEO of Palm, Intel and others.

    Some of these journalist/analysts seem to think once you have a blockbuster, that to keep your reputation, you must have a blockbuster that doubles sales ever couple years. That is not real life.

    Cook is NOT doing badly, that is for sure!

  5. I give Cook a D-. Not a failure by any measure but surely not any success. His product launches have royally sucked. His care taking of the product line is abysmal. Imagine if 5% 10% of iPhone users signed up for Apple Music! Imagine if he updated the Mac every year. No, that’s too much work for Tim Cook.


  6. Its hilarious to read critiques from people that know nothing about running the world’s most valuable company.

    There is no Google Glass at Apple. There is no failed phone like at Microsoft/Nokia. There are no losses like at Sony.

    Apple is reinventing enterprise computing with IBM. Apple is actually making wearables USEFUL.

    There isn’t a critique anywhere that has run an organization of even 100 people let alone 55,000 plus.

    Cook is EXCELLENT. As a retired management consultant his unforced errors are minor compared to those of Schmidt, Samdung, Microsoft, Amazon, etc.

    Until you have been a CEO or worked closely with them, believe me, you don’t know the job.

    1. Do you work directly with Cook? If not, then you’re not in a much better position to evaluate his performance.

      Cook inherited a company on the upswing with a hugely successful and growing portfolio of class-leading products and services.

      Since then, Cook has coasted. Of course he doesn’t have many unforced errors. You have to actually do something and take risks to have errors. Apple has stagnated and in some areas is regressing behind the companies that you claim are making bigger errors. Apple’s market share on almost all products has stayed flat or dropped steadily under Cook’s tepid leadership. Today a large portion of Apple’s profits comes from skimming 30% off app sales, not by Apple’s hardware and software improvements. In fact, software is now a loss leader as Cook pushes iCloud & music service subscriptions — both critically flawed offerings that are simply not world class.

      But you think iPhone handset sales momentum is going to last forever? It’s not. Sales have plateaued as the competition improves. Why do you suppose they are improving? Oh, yeah, because Apple gave them the cookbook. Apple is the customer of Samsung, Microsoft, Amazon and Google for server space and for hardware because Apple hasn’t evolved wot have the capability to do in-house what they want to do. Now Cook decides to pay the Party in China to have access to that corrupt marketplace. Is sleeping with the enemy a wise long-term strategy?

  7. Evaluating something as complex as Apple is a thing of parts, and the, or rather “a” right leader has a lot of check list points to meet, still, while lots of momentum had been built up in the Jobs ersa, I see the company – and its whole management team, not just Cook, basically coasting on their supportive strengths (and noticeably slowing in that of late with no fresh impetus behind it) to a peak it’s already passed.

    Companies with visionary founders often go through periods of various kinds of adjustments post founder, and it can be a decade or more before we know if the new config of the corp can match the dynamism and success that went before.

    IBM is a good example, even though Watson Sr. only took it over rather than founded it. Ford is another. The Ballmer era at Microsoft is a more recent example even though Chairman Bill was (and is) still around.

    Basically you either go for caretakers who “act in the spirit” of the founder as they see it (Cook Co) until that runs out, or give the reins to a new brash CEO with a disruptive vision who starts to remake the company in ways that loudly rearrange the furniture while risking significant failures in changing the strategic directions with medium and long-term new bets that may or may not pay off and which significantly effect the corporate culture.

    That person may or may not be coming to Apple somewhere down the line. Or they may continue in their boring iterative model for some time until the cracks can no longer be papered over.

    But phones are too much of a commodity for them to keep riding that sales wave (there are a lot of great $400 phones out there, and no, Android is not a terrible OS at this point), the store model has its limits, the car project may be a huge resource sump (or not, I dunno), the edifice complex (store design and spaceship campus) ultimately will not be drivers of future market leadership, ignoring the original base (Mac users) won’t sit well, and watch bands are not the future of technology.

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