Apple is losing its personality under Tim Cook, warns former creative director

“Without Steve Jobs, Apple is losing its personality,” Margi Murphy reports for The Telegraph. “That’s according to the former Apple creative director who helped Jobs build a cult following for the Apple brand. In an interview with The Telegraph, Chiat/Day director Ken Segall reveals how Steve Jobs was obsessed with creating an aura that made people ‘lust’ for his products.”

“This is something Apple is now missing, despite being one of the world’s most valuable technology companies, claims Segall. A failure to cash in on customer loyalty through emotional marketing campaigns might prove problematic for Apple as it prepares to weather a market that shows signs of cooling,” Murphy reports. “‘These days, Apple does a different campaign for a different phone which I always thought was a lost opportunity. They should be building a personality for the phone, a thing that people might want to be part of because it rises above the features of the moment.'”

“‘The passing of Steve Jobs created a completely different approach to marketing which we can see the results of,’ he adds. ‘They had some great moments and some not so great moments. As a marketer I look at that and can see the difference between Steve being there – and not being there – very clearly,'” Murphy reports. “In the late 80s, Segall took a job as Creative Director at BBDO, the ad agency handling Apple in Los Angeles, while John Sculley was chief executive officer. Segall then moved to work with Steve Jobs on his failed venture, NeXT, where he remained for three years. He was later installed again at Apple when Jobs took the reins again in 1997… Traditional companies have long counted on data, not gut instincts to make decisions and Segall feels that Apple, once a trailblazer, is no longer any different. ‘Tim Cook goes by recommendation of the people around him,’ he says. And those people are ‘a little vanilla.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “Vanilla,” he spat.

As we wrote in March 2013:

Steve Jobs held a three-hour meeting every Wednesday afternoon with his top agency, marketing and communications people to approve each new commercial, print ad, web ad, and billboard. Does Tim Cook? If he does, does he have anything close to Jobs’ sensibilities in this area? Judging from Apple’s marketing since Steve left the building, he does not. Therefore, Cook needs to find a marketing guru to take Steve’s place, conduct these Wednesday meetings, and hold his marketing peoples’ feet to the fire until he/she is extremely satisfied.

As we followed up in April 2014:

As Apple CEO, Steve Jobs focused on two things – product design and marketing. He was a genius at both. His talents cannot be replaced with one person. In fact, his talents in either discipline cannot be replaced by one person. Jony Ive and Phil Schiller without Jobs cannot be expected to perform as if Jobs was still working with them.

And, as we wrote this past March:

A team of people – talented people who actually get it and who are all on the same page – is an absolute necessity for Apple’s success, but it creates a problem: Jobs was a single filter. A unified mind. The founder. A group of people simply cannot replicate that. This is not to say that they cannot do great work (we believe Apple does, and will continue, to do great work) just that Apple is fundamentally affected by the loss of Steve Jobs and has to figure out a new way to work.


  1. one of a kind. Tim is just another pretty smart guy that graduated from a good university. Steve was one of the Crazy Ones. Tim is not. He is vanilla…just listen to him talk about AI…one of the tech revolutions of the day. He’ll inspire you to take a nap.

    1. Apple is very profitable. A lot of that comes from iPhone, a product Steve Jobs created. Yes, he had good people around him, but it was a defining product that smashed the entire phone industry that he himself brought to existence.

      I am amazed at how long that Cook and Apple have been able to ride off of the coattails of Steve Jobs: they are riding the very products Jobs ushered in. There is effectively no new products from Apple other than Apple Watch and HomePod. Both of these latter products are far from essential and are deeply flawed (e.g., Siri).

      The Apple Watch, which is an ok product, is about all we have over the past 7 years. The iPhone is the same old grid of icons with a better camera year-over-year.

      The lesson for me in all of this is that Jobs created products that are extremely resilient and that other tech companies create a lot garbage products: they can’t even compete with a company who lost its visionary and hasn’t produced anything of note since Jobs’s iPad in 2010.

      1. iWatch is of note, produced by Cook/Ive. But where is the inspirational catchphrase? I don’t see it. That’s why I don’t feel its alleged excitement in my heart, this, aside from its apparent MS-type of usefulness.

  2. Pipeline brings absolutely nothing to Apple that any other boring bean counter cant bring. Jobs’ loss has been staggering to Apple. Any lesser company would be suffering hugely by now. Pipeline has been riding the extremely long coat tails of Steve Jobs for years now. One day those coat tails will end and then the rabid drooling Apple Fan boys will finally recognize how utterly useless Pipeline is to Apple.

    Sadly it will be too late by then.

    1. I affirm the obviousness of Tim’s (and his understudies) super usefulness as a logistics aficionado.

      Do you think that he’s trying to make up for his lack of vision, about which he must be aware, by moving into SJWism? In my opinion SJWism is needed in this time of growing disparity when the top three wealthiest individuals hoard the same amt. of wealth as 50% of the US population.

    1. Seriously??? The guy critizes Cook based on his lack of performance and all of a sudden you blame homophobia.

      You’re just another typical lib who doesn’t get it.

      1. @ Does Apple:

        Seriously? Towertone runs the discussion in to the ditch of sexuality and all of a sudden you double down to make it a topic about political tendencies.

        Can we discuss Apple without the diverging BS please?

          1. Could this be because self proclaimed conservatives attack the person rather than the performance?

            When anyone suggests a more libertarian course than you like, you label them liberals , launch nasty attacks, and demand regulation and walls. But when someone calls for fiscal or common sense self restraint you bitch about excessive restrictions.

            Modern “conservatives” have only one consistent value: greed. they demand to privatize all gains for themselves and socialize all losses onto others. No other issue has such religious zealot following by the current crop of so-called conservatives today.

            In contrast, liberals like almost everyone working at Apple past and present are happy to live and let live without judgement and hate. They even give freely of their time, talents, and money so others can have a better life. Trumpians treat everything like a one time zero sum game, with the one and only goal to get rich in the short term, pissing on everyone else and whining constantly to get their own fact free selfish way.

            If you want to disprove what I wrote, then show us a post from any self proclaimed conservatives on MDN that shows anything other than self centered greed and disgust at anything which doesn’t serve their demands.

            1. “Modern “conservatives” have only one consistent value: greed”

              Thanks for proving the left is still clinging to the decades old stereotype that conservatives are all greedy.

              Democrats in key battleground states voted for Trump and they don’t buy this tired BS. Pennsylvania voter registration is 2-1 Democrat.

              Trump carried the state for a Republican the first time since 1988. Its OK, go back to your safe space …

            2. Actually most of us are concerned about what is good for the country, not just our personal selves and we don’t come to those conclusions by how we “feel” or how things “look” or what is trending on social media.

              I don’t know of one Conservative that was for Trump in the primaries. I’m sure they exist and I have nothing against them (OK there were some pundits but I am speaking personally) but the more he gets done and the better off the country is the more we see radical Leftist shut down anyone that doesn’t see the world in the same narrow view as they do. These might even be some of the people that work for Apple, I don’t know any but I doubt you do either.

              I remember when Obama was pushing his agenda and the Tea Party had rallies and initiatives they were always peaceful and without hate (other than for his policies). No trashed parks, looting, beating, masked militants or anything near the intimidation used by Antifa.

              So if you want to do a comparison of post on MDN over the past 12 years go ahead. You would see the hate directed at Bush and his supporters on just about every type of Mac related site there was back then and I had several REPLIES to liberals deleted by MacWorld and warned several times of banishment yet the post I replied to usually remained because hey, he was the Devil before Trump and the Devil after Reagan so have to direct the misinformation and hate somewhere.

              And like GoeB said, your view of Conservatives as greedy is not only a prejudice but a laughable paradox considering most Wallsteeters and large banks are run by Democrats or large donors.

              So anyhow, thanks for taking the bait and actually proving my point; if it weren’t for double-standards, the Left would have no standards at all…..

  3. I have to laugh at someone responsible for Chiat Day blowing that hot Air whatever one thinks of Cook. Their marketing campaigns deteriorated enormously at Apple in the later years to lack any sense of the originality and impact of their earlier work. My having a partner who worked for that company many years back I am not at all surprised about their stagnation, for they started to live off of Apple and became overwhelmed with their cutting edge mythology and their own hype. As soon as they had to actually earn the respect that Apple had once given them they struggled enormously showing no self awareness or creativity at all compared to their glory days. The were far more concerned with glossy minimalist offices with ‘idea igloos’ and no storage space and over-blown hype about being an off the wall Agency, than any real sense of actual quality or creativity. They became purely style over substance and so little does their name even come up these days, I had actually forgotten they even exist. Certainly listening to this guy it seems that in the mean time the lack of self awareness and overblown self confidence hasn’t changed any. They are probably pissed that their own lack of relevance now in their minds is linked to Steves passing but if they had escaped their delusion for a moment they might recognise it all started well before Steve less this World and even he had become seriously disillusioned with their mediocre output towards the end. Talk about living in the past.

    1. Oh Lord, Chiat and Day; I worked for Nissan Motor Company back in the day when they introduced the Infiniti line. The first ad showed rocks and trees and never showed the Q45, which was a great car and it still is.

      Nobody understood the ads, the idea I guess was to make the viewer curious. Curious about what? Just say what you want to say and show the freaking product!

      Toyota at the time did some great ads for the Lexus, and it took years for Infiniti to catch up. OMG: is it possibled that Sir Jony may have interned at Chiat Day? That would explain a lot!

  4. New business conditions require new approaches. Tim has done a remarkable job as CEO. This is a huge corporation with global operations Steve never had to deal with. My guess is he anticipated this and chose Tim because of his unique abilities to lead Apple. Tim understands Apple’s past and the challenges of being a huge corporation as it moves into the future. Some may criticize him, but likely none would be better.

    1. Agreed. I wrote the 1st post and have huge issues with TC, but as far as driving a huge financial reality, he’s staying between the lines and navigating realities encountered.
      With that said, for the f’g life of me, I cannot figure out, imagine, or otherwise rationalize, why he’s had so many “pedestrian” product release failures and delays? Add to that the mysterious Mac Pro/mini “forgetfulness.” And then to claim years later into the “forgetfulness,” the company was talking to the Pros about what they needed! The effort was 4 years past due and, what company, inextricably linked to “Pros” would need to have a pow-wow to learn what they need?!

    2. Remarkable job? Well yes, if by remarkable you mean remarkably poor.

      Pipeline’s numerous botch product launches are certainly remarkable.

      Pipeline’s letting the Mac rot until it is so out of date that even fans have a hard time recommending their purchase is surely remarkable.

      Pipeline dismantling wonderful product lines like AirPort and Time Capsule surely is remarkable.

      Pipeline allowing once industry leading software become laughing stocks or disappearing is certainly remarkable.

      Pipeline has been an unmitigated disaster for Apple. No innovation, no thinking different. Pipeline does none of that. There is a reason why so many Apple fans are more than a little disgruntled and that reason is Pipeline. He’s as boring a person as watching paint dry.

      Am I the only one who remembers when Apple was an exciting company?

      Try listening to Pipeline during the earnings call later today. See if you can stay awake.

      Pipeline is an anchor that is holding back the future of Apple.

      It is long past the time to get rid of Pipeline.

    3. I cannot disagree more.

      Tim’s job as CEO has been one of risk avoidance and LACK of leadership.

      – Apple has abandoned or stopped development of many popular and profitable products, the neglect is pissing formerly loyal customers off
      – Apple is no longer regarded as an innovator, but now as a lifestyle brand. All things Cook promotes are tied to an app store or a subscription fee. Apple’s newest hardware and software products come to market looking like a simplified version of what some other company released 2 years ago — but with fundamental usability limitations an high pricing that make them a worse value than ever before. And then there is stuff like the inefficient expensive stupid iOS gadget charging mat, which may never work as advertised even if it is released.
      – “It just works” is no longer part of the company credo.
      – Investors show low faith in Apple growing, as shown by the low P/E ratio
      – Consumers today regard Apple only as a gadget maker — they definitely see less passion for Apple than in years past when the Apple product provided a the user a vastly better experience than the competition
      – Apple’s global operations haven’t actually changed since Jobs was alive — actually Apple is less nimble than before. Foxconn remains the key to profits since Apple can’t/won’t make iPhones without outsourcing to a company that provides cheap Chinese labor. Key components are sourced directly from IP thieving competition.
      – And finally: nobody regards Apple as a business / pro level device manufacturer. Apple abandoned education and businesses the second Cook stepped in. He hired fashion executives to turn the company into one more concerned with style than substance. Why? Because Pipeline Cook can’t walk and chew gum at once.

      ANYONE with an MBA or engineering degree and an iota of product passion could achieve superior business results compared to Cook. Cook doesn’t have passion, he is a massive risk avoider and it shows in everything Apple does today.

      1. Well said Mike. You clearly understand how awful Pipeline is as a CEO of Apple. Only those who slavishly devote themselves to Pipeline could one star you.

        I fail to see how anyone could disagree with your post as it documents very well the numerous deficiencies of Pipeline.

      2. I agree with Mike. I CEOs job is to make a company profitable, not “exciting”. You mention exciting and I think that’s the core of your argument. Apple has always been historical and with Steve Jobs it was historical in a number of ways. Today, it’s still historical, but merely in a financial way… especially as Apple approaches the 1 trillion mark. Beyond that, it’s a pretty boring story and that’s hugely different than when Steve was driving the bus.

        I admit, I’m still dealing with the grief because the old Apple, that used to be as exciting as a excellent book, is now about as exciting as a headline in the Wall Street Journal.

        By the way, as a stockholder that’s been able to retire early because of APPL’s success, I like those stories.

  5. Tim cook is unwittingly strangling Apple to a slow death of irrelevance. Being good at supply chain management and virtue-signaling politics is just not enough to sustain creativity and innovation at Apple. Steve jobs belongs to the rare breed of flawed but brash Americans who dare to make a difference (Railroad barrons, Thomas Edison, Muhammed Ali, Bobby Fischer, Presidents Kennedy, Trump…).

    1. You’re seriously holding up Bobby Fischer and Mohamed Ali as possessing the skills to run a trillion-dollar corporation? Apple has a history of social awareness running all the way back to the garage. It has never been the sort of place where a robber baron from the nineteenth century like Cornelius Vanderbilt or Donald Trump would be a good fit.

      1. If Apple reaches $1 trillion it will be in large part due to President Trump’s policies, produced by his vision, fueled by his genius. Even Steve Jobs is a piker compared to Donald Trump, let alone LGBTQ+Cook. Whatever idiocy Cook and Co. engage in over the next 6.5 years, rest assured that it will be in large part blunted by the greatest presidential administration in American history.

      2. Hmmm, does “forgetting to pay your business partner and denying child responsibility fit into your definition? Steve wasn’t always a guy that would fit into culture’s “admire box.”
        There was a time as well when Apple was hardly green and if not for irritating press, I’m convinced Steve wouldn’t have acted to clean up AAPL’s act…which was poor in comparison to Dell and others. This goes back a few years, btw.
        Steve wasn’t an angel and occasionally wore the hat of a baron.

    2. LOL … Tim Cook is steering Apple inc. in a very responsible way, ensuring that my family’s privacy and security is protected, which is of paramount importance in a world of Social media, fake news, spam, hacking etc… plus, I don’t think my family is alone, as families across the world also vote with their wallets, seeing more than 1.3 billion devices active today.

      LOL 2 … “not enough to sustain innovation” …. so Face ID is not innovative … show me a competitor who will even come close in the next 5 years. Why not you may ask? Because Apple inc. (under Tim Cook) controls more and more of the complete stack, from design, through silicon, hardware, software, services etc. Nobody else comes close!

      1. Face ID is a technology concept that has been around for a long time starting with science fiction movies. Tim Cook’s Apple merely implemented it on a mobile device- of course with excellent engineering.

        1. LOL …. well let’s see another competitor implement the same ease of use Face ID capability on a mobile device; guess what, not going to happen, just like Touch ID!!

      2. LOL 3…under TC Apple has increased its phone profits from 50% of the industry to over 85% and has increased its market share in a now mature market sector. Folks, this is not normal and TC deserves huge congratulations not opprobrium.

    3. Apple inovates; It’s just that it no longer is able to give us those “1000 songs in your pocket” gems or “Adobe is lazy” zingers and get media writing pro and con articles that start conversations that get people excited about Apple. And the current Apple commercials are super good but, in my opinion, do not strikingly stand out from ads from other top businesses.

  6. That Apple’s image is perfectly honed, mechanical is true. True also is the weak sizzle; Where’s the uppityness; Where’s the general concept in which the typical consumer would want to get inspired and rally around? Where’s the stick-in-your-eye rebellion? That’s what Trump and Sanders are all about which is why they are so popular within their respective camps.

    Perfectly honed mechanics should lie within its tech, not in its image.

  7. No, no, no. They aren’t losing any personality, rather, it is changing. If you think of Apple’s personality under Jobs it was probably along the lines of “unexpected” or “inventive” or “fiery and challenging.” Under Cook I think good products, incremental, not radical change, and gay pride parades. Seriously, that’s what comes to mind, as Cook leverages his position of Apple CEO to wield it for his own personal causes. I don’t care what the cause is, I don’t care for CEO’s using their companies for their own personal politics. Tim can support orphans, he can support gay price parades, but do it on his own dime and don’t put Apple’s logo all over his own personal stances. Separate the two. And yes, same sex attracted people I know also agree – shocker!

    1. He can do all of that as long as he does not release faulty products and gets someone to make Apple’s image into one of excitement and wonder.

  8. Tim needs to ditch his political agenda and say, I don’t know, devote that time to Macs. A 4 year old Mac Mini and a weak Mac Pro deserved attention 3 years ago.

  9. When I come across blatant untruths in an article, it leads me to question all of the content.

    “Segall then moved to work with Steve Jobs on his failed venture, NeXT…”

    While NeXT did not become Apple, I seem to recall that Steve Jobs ended up OK with the results! A failure? Not by a reasonable definition of the word.

    1. I believe that the NeXT Co. failed but its technology succeeded after incorporating most of its NeXTSTEP OS into what became the newly formulated Apple OS X.

  10. I’d say they have already lost it, they are just another company at this point. I really appreciate their respect for their customers’ privacy, but otherwise, they don’t stand out much these days. They certainly don’t inspire me as they once did.

  11. Apple HAS great personality.

    Tim Cook, while he seems like a nice person, would definitely NOT be the life of the party. (unless someone has some photographs we don’t know about. Lampshade on the head type stuff).

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