Tim Cook’s record-crushing tenure as Apple CEO is the most under-appreciated story in business

“It’s been a monumental few months for Apple, with the release of the iPhone X — the biggest redesign of Apple’s most important product since it launched in 2007 — plus the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, a new Apple Watch with cellular connectivity, a new Apple TV, new Macs, and the forthcoming HomePod ‘smart’ speaker,” Anita Balakrishnan writes for CNBC. “All of these products were hatched under the watch of Apple’s understated CEO, Tim Cook. But Cook, who took over in August 2011 after a couple of interim-CEO stints, has not inspired the same level of devotion as his predecessor, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.”

“Jobs did bring Apple back from the brink of bankruptcy to turn it into the most valuable company in the world. But Cook’s job in some ways is harder,” Balakrishnan writes. “Jobs was starting almost from zero. Cook has to maintain Apple’s growth from an absolutely massive revenue and profit base, while answering critics who long for another world-changing product like the iPhone turned out to be.”

“So how’s he doing? Apple’s market capitalization — the value ascribed to a company by investors — has more than doubled under Cook’s tenure and is inching toward a trillion dollars this year, cementing Apple’s place as the world’s most valuable public company” Balakrishnan writes. “”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: By SteveJack

As always, the question is how much of this success is due to the momentum bequeathed by Steve Jobs (which any competent, or even semi-competent, caretaker CEO could ride) and how much is ascribable to Cook.

Post-Jobs, there have certainly been successes, Apple Watch, for one under-appreciated example, although we’ve heard that Steve Jobs most certainly did know about and expect Apple to make a smartwatch, and inexplicable misses (the myopic neglect of the profitable and successful Macintosh which, under Cook, ended its long quarterly string of outgrowing the Windows PC market and which is still struggling to regain its footing with professional Macs that professionals want to buy, for one example. For another: HomePod is an obvious follower move, a pure reaction to Amazon Echo, and hence an example of Apple’s lack of vision under Cook. Don’t get us wrong: It’ll be the best smart speaker on the market when it finally gets here and we’ll be buying multiple units for our homes and offices, but, like many things under Cook, it is late, as were iPhones with larger displays by two years at least – the nonexistence of which gave Samsung a huge, undeserved toehold into far too many smartphone users’ lives).

Cook is obviously an excellent CEO. The longer he is CEO the clearer it will become just how much of a “visionary” he is or is not. At this point, “The Vision Thing” may not matter. Apple may not need a visionary virtuoso like Steve Jobs as the company is so large and so rich, they can now afford to wait, holding their fingers to the wind, and then swoop in from behind and take over in new markets with stellar execution as they will very soon in the top end (read: profitable portion) of the smart speaker market. They may also eventually end up doing the same thing in the streaming box market where they were once the innovator and leader with Apple TV, under Jobs, and are now looking to come from way behind (by finally creating their own compelling exclusive content) where they’ve fallen under Cook.

Of course, it’s all hugely complicated by the fact that the transition happened the way it did. Jobs was taken way too soon. He left Cook with the albatross of building the massive Apple Park, a huge distraction that is still ongoing. Hopefully once the core of the company is moved in there and working, strange things like neglecting the Mac Pro for years will stop happening.

As always and regardless of who Apple’s CEO is, following Steve Jobs’ act is an impossible, generally thankless task (outside of the becoming fabulously rich aspect, of course).


  1. …except if it weren’t for Donald Trump’s policies incredible effect on the stock market, Pipeline wouldn’t even have gotten his bonus..

    CNBC forgot that part.

    1. Not Exactly. Mr. Trump’s policies MAY have had an effect on the market but Apple’s sales are what is driving the stock. The are blasting “ex-pert anal-ysts” who keep Apple bashing until they are smacked in the face with another huge quarter then they are all on board. This was due to Apple bringing out products that were in the pipeline before Mr. Trump was elected but announced and produced this year. You can make an argument that the continuing bull market was due to the Trump admin. policies but Apple’s success is all due to Apple and no one else.

            1. Yes, Sean, I know. *sigh* But, you’re one of the good guys, so, you don’t rub it in.. 😇 except you did.. 😧 I still believe that you could be a better moderating influence at MDN by dropping your own belligerence and name-calling. I’ve already suggested that, but you didn’t listen. You obviously think my sympathies are misguided, and my gentler approach inadequate to contain the existential threat to decency you feverishly desire. I’m sorry we can’t agree on an ethics of political expression, but the history of it in this country since the 1700s consoles me somewhat—such a code of conduct never existed. Every contested national election has been nasty. The Internet hasn’t made anyone nicer.

            2. Asswipe will never moderate his behavior based on others being diplomatic or supportive or interested or anything else positive.

              The only acceptable response, in his mind, is to agree with him. I have seen many people try to put forward points calmly and rationally, only to be met with poisonous insult.

              I would stop insulting him the instant he stops insulting others. But this is not going to happen. The only thing that will change what we see from him is MDN cleaning up this site.

              But at least we can, by calling him out, let others know such behavior is not acceptable to most people here.

            3. Typical leftist calls for censorship masquerading as civility. I am all for limiting comments to subscribers, but it’s not going to favor your end of the spectrum, socialists are too cheap.

            4. Ahhh, I see. Your supporters are correct, after all. You are misunderstood, and so full of wit and wisdom.

              And Nick, if Asswipe was at your house, and spoke as he does, in front of your children, I am pretty sure you would ask him not to. Or you wouldn’t invite him back again. I don’t think it is out of line to expect civility when discussing phones and computers.

              And, by the way, I think that might be even MORE so in the many right-wing states, that are so famous for politeness and hospitality.

            5. There’s that toxic dinner guest again, displaying his wit and wisdom.

              Since you used those words, Herself, every post of his that I have read has been completely lacking wit and wisdom… and has been at best banal and usually toxic.

              I’m with you on roosters.

    2. Don’t forget Apple’s tax havens. Being able to squirrel away billions in off shore accounts really helps boost profits. I have to congratulate Tim Cook’s willingness to avoid paying billions of dollars to IRS. I wish I could have done the same. Then again, deducting the billions in secret accounts and Apple’s technical acumen looks less impressive as its accounting shenanigans.

      1. Apple accrues the taxes they owe each quarter, but in effect send an iou to the treasury and invests the money as overseas cash. If given a tax holiday, about 200B of the cash will come home untaxed and income for the related periods will be restated upward adding about 200B o shareholders equity. thee cash will be used either to repay debt or perhaps make acquisitions or pay a special dividend. A special dividend would be a tax windfall to treasury since shareholders would pay taxes on that income (with exception of non profits and retirement accounts). any accounting geniuses out their correct if i’m wrong. My tax accounting course was 45 years ago.

  2. Tim turning out pretty good, I’m very happy. I’ve been thinking of the other Apple CEOs recently, Amelio, Sculley, Gassé and I wonder if any of them would have been able to keep Apple going like Tim has.

    1. Those guys tried their best to run Apple into the ground. It’s only fair that Tim Cook gets a chance to do the same. He hasn’t yet managed to do it, only piss off a few thousand fan pros, and more’s the pity. Tim ought to abdicate and hand the scepter to Eddy Cue.. I long suspected Microsoft of planting him to hollow out Apple from within.

      1. Exactly and apart from those thousand fans he’s pissed off he’s doing a fine job. That’s quite the sarcastic drip you’ve got going there by the way, that will distort your values over time you know, just saying.

      1. Thanks for pointing that out, Gassé was just an executive at Apple, he founded BeOS, that’s where my confusion stemmed from.

        Anyway the point remains, I think Tim is doing pretty good compared to Apple’s previous CEOs.

  3. Please, the Stock Market has been on a climb for years- most of the Obama Administration, to be exact. Until October 1 of this year, the US government was operating under budget priorities determined during the Obama Administration. The first budget year under Trump is a little more than a month old.

    Next, the stock market is salivating with speculation over the repatriation of funds overseas. At the current rate, that will not likely happen this tax year- if ever. Next year is an election year and dozens of senior Republicans have opted to retire from leadership positions in the US House. Were the Democrats not such a disorganized and disreputable bunch, the outcome of next year’s election would not likely be in question.

    I am not a Democrat and did not vote for Trump or Clinton- or Obama, earlier. Not a fan of inept, corrupt and ineffective governance. Trump’s allies in Congress are more concerned with trying to keep him out of jail than dealing with the many issues our government has a real need to address.

  4. he’s fscking rich—that’s for sure.. but being a photographer and music guy (read: creative pro), under tim’s watch Apple has failed miserably. Mac Pro, iTunes/Music and Aperture were my life and now all are either discontinued, totally screwed beyond saving or severely lacking.

    that said, i do have a really nice phone out of the deal 😂☹️😂☹️😂☹️

  5. The iPod was also “late” as what the original iPhone in that there were other offerings in the same genre for sale when they came out. Being “late” is typical for apple under Steve Jobs and Tim Cook and that is a good thing. Not first but the best by a large margin.

    Steve Jobs had the vision all right but Apple wan’t making much money despite their visionary products until Cook arrived and tuned the business for world-beating efficiency and profitability. I’ve always felt that Jobs set the direction but Cook carried the load along that route. That profitability led to them being able to out-innovate everyone and led to their present ever accelerating lead over the rest of the tech industry.

    There is much more to being successful than brilliant vision. You can still go broke despite that world-beating vision if you don’t execute equally brilliantly. Cook executes and brings in the profits. His vision may not be quite as good as Job’s but his combination of vision+business acumen probably adds up to a bigger plus than Job’s vision alone.

    All of you profiting from AAPL have mostly Cook to thank. I doubt that Apples runaway financial triumphs would be there without Cook or someone like him at the helm.

  6. Steve Jack you are rewriting history on Jobs vision. It was never about being the first. Apple did not deliver the first MP3 player, the first smart phone, the first tablet, the first laptop, etc. Apple took its time to deliver the best. The iPhone X, the Apple Watch and the HomePod are no different. I don’t think these are late. And honestly, if bigger iPhones were late it is more on Jobs, out of respect for Job’s vision that big phones were bad. I don’t think an Apple under Jobs would have come around faster on this than the Apple under Cook did. It is not vision the Apple under Cook is lacking, it is in execution like for instance delivering yearly updates on all Mac models.

  7. Record crushing? Ok, sure.

    Longest time between Mac mini refreshes? Check.
    Longest time between Mac Pro refershes? Yep.
    Longest time with a laptop stuck with the same max RAM (MBP, 16GB RAM in 2011, 16GB RAM today)? Oh yeah.

    Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone is great and all, but this is Mac Daily News, and Tim isn’t doing so hot when it comes to the Mac.

    And the stupidest part of all of that is that Apple doesn’t even have to do most of the work. The vast majority of what a Mac is today is an Intel reference design on a custom PCB. If they hadn’t gone with that asinine thermally hamstrung trash can design, Apple could have released a new Mac Pro every time Intel released a new chip instead of releasing nothing at all since 2013.

  8. Tim Cook is underappreciated because he’s not a visionary, he’s a typical bean counting CEO. He’s all about the bottom line and getting the share price up for his options even if it means scrapping product lines and true innovation. Mobile makes money, so focus there at the expense of the loyal desktop users.

  9. Its hard to compare Cooks role to Jobs as CEO. Jobs CEO role was unconventional – he was the visionary who more than set the tone for products from a design, operations and sales standpoint. He was intimately involved with and frequently led these efforts. He was less a manager and more of an individual contributor/creator. Cook is definitely a manager, which is a good thing – may be a little boring and he may have stifled some of the engineering creativity and inspiration by mitigating conflict, but necessary as the company scaled up. I don’t think people appreciate all the moving parts that allow a company that owns no factories to do $229B in revenue.

    Somewhere in this process Apple (and Cook) bottled up the essence of Steve Jobs and has inoculated it into everything they do. All that core values stuff. Cooks success was based on institutionalizing that essence and then adding his own kinder, gentler stature. No denying it has worked.

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