The gaping Jobsian void within Apple

“We’ve been hearing more criticism lately that Tim Cook has failed in his leadership of Apple, that Cook hasn’t been able to fill the shoes of Steve Jobs. The expectation that Cook could become another Steve Jobs was never realistic, but there’s an important role that Jobs performed that needs to be filled by someone at Apple,” Mark Hibben writes for Seeking Alpha. “That’s the role of product architect.”

“What’s a product architect? It’s actually difficult to answer, and I find myself wanting to say “it’s what Steve Jobs did.” Elon Musk of Tesla has the title of Chairman, Product Architect, and CEO. Clearly, Tesla’s products bear the imprimatur of the tastes and judgment of Musk, just as Apple’s products once did of Jobs,” Hibben writes. “Product architects are generalists, not specialists. They may have a technical or engineering background, but they also have a wide range of interests beyond that. The key role of the product architect is to figure out how to turn innovative technologies into successful products.”

“The ability of Steve Jobs to see the product nascent in a lab experiment was his true genius, but he also had the ability to guide product development efforts (such as the development of the Mac, iPod, iPhone, etc.) making crucial technology decisions along the way,” Hibben writes. “When I think about Apple’s management team, I really don’t see anyone who fulfills the product architect role. Jony Ive? Maybe it was intended that he perform that role, but if you look at his job description (on Apple), it’s not quite the same thing.”

“If Ive was intended to be the product architect, I’ll be blunt. He isn’t cutting it,” Hibben writes. “The architect operates at a somewhat higher level. Product architecture combines many elements including marketing, technology and design. But it’s not primarily about aesthetics.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The Apple TV remote is clear, incontrovertible evidence that Jony Ive either wasn’t involved or had mentally checked out during its so-called “design process.” Obviously, Steve Jobs is missed and, yes, Apple does need a Jobsian product architect. Unfortunately, Steve was a unique genius and his shoes, so far, have been impossible to fill.

As we wrote over three years ago:

Steve Jobs would get it. Tim Cook? Well, he released it. Just like he released Apple Maps. If it’s not crystal clear by now, it should be: Cook can’t see it. He’s very good at some things; other things he simply cannot see. This is not a knock. The ability to be so detail-oritented, so absorbed in the end user experience to the exclusion of all else, is a rare ability.

“Tim’s not a product person, per se.” – Steve Jobs discussing Tim Cook, as quoted by Walter Isaacson in “Steve Jobs”

Cook needs to assign people to these projects who can do what he cannot, who can see what he cannot see, and make sure these people are as focused and obsessed as Steve Jobs. There may only be one person at Apple who can do this reliably: Jony Ive. Unfortunately, he may be too busy being chief designer of all things Apple (hardware and software) to also do what Jobs did so incredibly well: Focus on a wide range of products, experience each of them as the end user does, and not allow products out the door until they can perform as Apple products should perform. It’s highly likely there is not enough time in the day for all Ive would need to do (or even to do all that he’s supposed to be doing already).

Cook needs to find people who are obsessive about the end user experience and assign them to these type of projects. There should have been someone at Apple who became the planet’s preeminent authority on streaming radio, who knew every service, who used these services for hours each day, who lived and breathed and used streaming radio for months. This person should have been iTunes Radio’s shepherd and final arbiter, without whose approval, iTunes Radio would not be released. Was there such a person on this project?

…To state the obvious: Steve Jobs was one-of-a-kind and truly amazing. No hyperbole. Cook needs to try to replicate Steve Jobs as much as possible with a group of people, each of whom can contribute various elements of Jobs’ wide range of skills.MacDailyNews, November 11, 2013


    1. Jobs mistakes relatively speaking were few and fixed quickly. The round mouse disappeared quickly.

      today there are a lot more problems :

      Mac Minis: crippled, non upgradable RAM (a desktop could be an inch or two bigger, what’s the big need for super thin?), no updates

      Apple Remote hard to use.
      Thinness obsession when many want more battery life, overheating in some machines.

      Cylinder Mac Pro, three years no update, non upgradable GPUs (six year old Cheese Grater pros with upgraded cards 2-3 times faster. As I’ve shown before Ive’s own designers are using old Cheese Graters, see below, pix from end of 2015 .)


      (It’s as if there’s no one to check the overall product to see if it’s suitable for the target consumer. )

      there are also a lot more problems with the work of the OTHER SVPs, e.g Apple Music launch etc.

      1. Notice the Apple Branded Displays. Fire Eddy Cue. Then if no noticeable change fire Tim Cook 6 mos later. They all dump their stock while Rome burns. We are watching the destruction of a once great company by incompetence and arrogance.

    2. I agree, but it material impact on Apple’s business a practically nil. It was a loser, but a minor one at that. There are many losers under TC’s watch and some are inexplicable…esp for a “operations genius.”

  1. When Steve was at Apple, they had fewer products to create and maintain with good upgrades on a schedule.

    I suspect that Ive is now impressed with his notoriety and spending less time at Apple than Steve did.

    As Apple grows, it is going to have to manage the much larger product line.

    1. ” Steve was at Apple, they had fewer products to create and maintain”

      from what I see there’s exactly ONE new hardware product : the Apple Watch which was not under Jobs.

      The Beats business came with it’s own engineers and new hires.
      Also today Apple has way more staff. 70,000 in USA alone.

      1. Well, Apple is trying to make 2-3 models of iPhone now new BT ear buds. Apple TV is still not up to speed it sounds like along with Apple Watch.

        Not complaining about what Apple does, but wish they would do upgrades in a more timely manner.

  2. When Steve was at Apple, they had fewer products to create and maintain with good upgrades on a schedule.

    I wonder if Ive is now spending less time at Apple than Steve did.

    As Apple grows, it is going to have to successfully manage the much larger product line.

  3. This is a tough job description. Not only do you need to right but you need to be enough of a hard ass to make your decisions stick. There is enormous pressure to cut costs, or simply do it the way some other group/individual wants to.

    I always thought that Steve’s greatest superpower was the ability to push back against the inertia of the bureaucracy, the status quo.

  4. Steve Jobs was one of the greatest geniuses of our lifetimes, and of all time. He changed the world. There is no way anyone other than Elon Musk could be expected to replace him. Tim Cook is probably doing a great job, and Apple may continue to produce and even invent great products, but we cannot expect quite the same results as when Steve was leading the company. It is possible, that Steve, like many greats, did his finest work in his youth, and maybe fresh blood may be good for Apple. Steve’s ridiculous, mausoleum-like world headquarters, his obstinacy about not having a bigger iphone, his ‘leather’ calendar, are detriments to his leadership that we forget when criticizing contemporary Apple. Perhaps there will be good, too, in this tragic change from his leadership.

  5. ot only is Cook anti-consumer in his “shoddy product for highest price” penny-pinching approach, but he’s also anti-Apple and disregards customer satisfaction, and he’s also anti-product when he creates products that most of us don’t want to buy.

    Tim Cook is simply bad for Apple. He feels he can abuse Apple’s user base because we are trapped in the ecosystem… but historically that’s always spelled the beginning of the end for companies that disregard their customer bases.

    1. The unfortunate next step under the childish social justice warrior Tim Cook’s reign will be the antithesis of the Return Of Jobs…instead of the very best minds fighting and competing to work at Apple, the very best minds will be scrambling to leave.

  6. Actually, Apple should be making a lot more products than just riding the wave of phones, tablets and computers by now. Those core products were meant to bring Apple back to strong profitability which has been achieved many, many times over. Apple could pay all their employees for 20 years without making a profit and they have over $230 billion in cash. Failure or not, Apple has the power to push society forward which was Steve’s goal all along. From failure comes success. The do not need to be so reserved as they are about making new products.

  7. Please Tim and Joni relieve yourself from the Mac and by the way relieve us. Be humble, find deep inside you hearts, you don’t care about the Mac, it is just a “me too” product for you.

  8. Jobs said, “We don’t make junque.” While making iBooks with bad logic boards for years. Cubes, with which he was obsessed. Big butt power Macs, Mac Pro. Apple has made a bit o’ junk. It’s the system boys OS X (whew, macOS?!?!), OS X, that kept me using Macs all these years. I started on OS 3.1. It’s older than many people here. Hated it up to OS 9. But OS X has been great. If I could buy a laptop that’d run it other than a MacBook, it’d be sayonara Mac hardware.

  9. AppleTv as a whole.. worst thought out product from apple.
    The Igore Batterycase… for heavens sake who approved that design.
    ApplePencil missing many basic function and no way to keep it with the device!!… and that awkward charging solution .
    MagicMouse’s incredibley stupid charging solution.
    The trashcan Mac Pro…(did anyone even conult a pro for 1 second )
    unupgradable macbooks… with idiosyncratic limitations….
    etc.. (if i have left anything out)

    Yes Apple… what is going on ? who is in charge …. these designs/ergos would get D- at 101 level classes..
    Yet Apple,, company known for its fantastic merger of tech and liberal arts okayed the above …??

    How can this Happen Tim and Team ?

    1. How did it happen?—Steve Jobs died, and asked Tim Cook to take his place and to not ask “what would Steve do?” Moreover, Steve made Jony Ive untouchable.

      Any complaints about their misdeeds must ultimately come to rest at the gravestone of Steve Jobs himself:—instead of excoriating them, think of Steve’s appointments of Ive and Cook as his final two mistakes—which, to be frank, were legion.

      The living suffer endlessly, whilst the dead rest in peace.

      1. One more thing…
        Well, yes, they were the mistakes of a man on the brink of his own mortality…but I will never, ever forget the courage, determination and character of an emaciated Steve Jobs, barely able to hold himself upright, delivering his last keynote speech with panache and style. Like a broken Muhammad Ali, he was a champion until the end.

        1. Regardless of a man’s profession or how you perceive a Thomas Edison or a Steve Jobs or a Donald Trump, the truth is honest men admire those qualities and will follow them and dishonest men will always envy and betray them.

          For me, Robert Rossen said it best back in a 1961 film:

          “I just hadda show those creeps and those punks what the game is like when it’s great, when it’s REALLY great. You know, like anything can be great, anything can be great. I don’t care, BRICKLAYING can be great, if a guy knows. If he knows what he’s doing and why and if he can make it come off. When I’m goin’, I mean, when I’m REALLY goin’ I feel like a… like a jockey must feel. He’s sittin’ on his horse, he’s got all that speed and that power underneath him… he’s comin’ into the stretch, the pressure’s on ‘im, and he KNOWS… just feels… when to let it go and how much. Cause he’s got everything workin’ for ‘im: timing, touch. It’s a great feeling, boy, it’s a real great feeling when you’re right and you KNOW you’re right. It’s like all of a sudden I got oil in my arm. The pool cue’s part of me. You know, it’s uh – pool cue, it’s got nerves in it. It’s a piece of wood, it’s got nerves in it. Feel the roll of those balls, you don’t have to look, you just KNOW. You make shots that nobody’s ever made before. I can play that game the way… NOBODY’S ever played it before.”

        2. A man dies, one who we admired, and there is a void in our lives that must be filled, but somehow never does get filled, not properly at any rate; and we are left with memories of a time when things got done properly, when promises bloomed like roses in the Springtime and honeybees swarmed around them, and all life was fecund and pregnant with hope. To-day the garden is diminished, gone to seed; the gardener is replaced; God help us, the flower bouquets now arrive from Argentina via refrigerated conveyance, and hope is contained in a Hallmark card.

        3. I don’t know how you can call these appointments “mistakes”. These 2 men were hugely instrumental in helping him create and mass produce some of the most innovative products the world has ever seen. He’d been with them over a decade, and we all know Steve didn’t suffer fools well, and certainly, didn’t give the time of day to “yes” men.

          I think they may be disappointments to us, but I can’t help thinking they are reaching, maybe too far, for transformational products in R&D and missing the boat on maintaining the current crop of product. Even under Steve, Apple had its ups and downs.

      2. Im concered as many are..
        I write Apple .. constantly… voicing all these issues and concerns..
        I know sometimes they listen.. but if they hear us is a totaly different matter….

        2017, critical year for my assessment…. they better blow us away with some serious macs and couple more surprises… … and im not including iphone8 there. thats expected.
        If the iIgore batterycase (and alike listed in my post above ) mentality keeps poping up in other new products… ill be very close to moving camps.
        Sorry Jonny … but im starting to develope a dislike for you… and getting fedup with your narrated videos and BS….
        its not the Suave narration in soft voice and British accent that makes the product…….. these presentations are sounding like brocken records now….( its ohhh. there we go another Jonny thing again )
        Give us UNCOMPROMIZED state of the art , ergonomic/productive and beautiful products! Not Hot Air !

        APPLE cant charge a premium while not delivering best in all Ways and Fronts..
        From MacBooks to iMacs to MAC PRO.. to iPhones and IPad s..


        I suggest all those who have real concerns to bombard apple with their thoughts . !

  10. re: the Apple TV

    I finally got a “TV” after years of just watching videos on my laptop. I got tired of moving my laptop around from my desktop setup to the TV and figured I’d get one of the “TV” devices – immediately thought that would be an Apple TV until I researched what it could / couldn’t do.

    I can honestly say that I was literally shocked – taken aback – at how limited it was.

    The built in connectivity of my cheap 32″ TV matches what the Apple TV box could do as far as I could tell. And NO local storage? wtf


  11. Yeah. I don’t think Cook is doing a bad job. He was always the brilliant logistics guy, not the visionary. I think Jobs hoped Ive would step up to the visionary plate, and though I sad to critique a talented countryman, he hasn’t been the visionary Apple wanted. No-one could replace Jobs. We all knew that, but we (I) hoped Ive would come closer than he has.

  12. “We have exciting things in the pipeline.” – T.Cook 2012
    “We have exciting things in the pipeline.” – T.Cook 2013
    “We have exciting things in the pipeline.” – T.Cook 2014
    “We have exciting things in the pipeline.” – T.Cook 2015
    “We have exciting things in the pipeline.” – T.Cook 2016

    How dare you criticize our Timmy. There are exciting things in the pipeline! Right?

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