2019 is make or break for Apple as CEO Tim Cook tries to save his legacy

“Apple CEO Tim Cook is staring down the barrel of his latest career-defining moment in the wake of a shocking financial warning to investors,” Brian Sozzi reports for Yahoo Finance. “‘Tim Cook’s legacy will be determined by what happens in 2019,’ veteran tech analyst Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities tells Yahoo Finance. Ives believes that Cook has to prove a lot to investors this year and do it quickly in order to set Apple up for longer term success. ‘There is a lot of pressure on Cook to make sure Apple gets to its next chapter.'”

“Up until this point, Cook’s legacy could be viewed as a CEO that didn’t mess up what the innovative founder created,” Sozzi reports. “At the same time, Cook has expanded Apple’s reach into the lives of people globally — and its social influence.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook
“But a $7 billion revenue warning now has Cook on his back heels with the media, investors and even Chinese consumers amid rising trade tensions. In effect, Cook’s resumé suddenly has a host of new asterisks,” Sozzi reports. “Most sources Yahoo Finance talked with think Cook will be forced to aggressively ramp up stock buybacks and M&A. Doing so, says sources, would signal to investors that Cook is prepared to use Apple’s massive cash pile ($250 billion-plus) to fundamentally change the investment narrative.”

“Scrutiny rightfully will be high. And it should be: Cook and his management team failed to properly guide investors to slowing global demand for its most important product, the iPhone. Supply constraints for new Macs and Apple Watches are also a black eye for Cook considering his operations background,” Sozzi reports. “‘This is one of the darkest days in Apple’s history,’ Ives says.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The pressure Cook is now under was palpable as he stammered his way though that CNBC interview after Apple was forced to slash its revenue outlook for the first time in almost two decades.

Unfocused, hubristic mismanagement deserves comeuppance. Let’s hope the humiliation being heaped upon them today and in the days to come refocuses the minds in Apple’s C-suite as if Steve Jobs himself were once again standing before them demanding answers, excellence, and timely performance. — MacDailyNews, January 3, 2019

SEE ALSO:
$452 billion goes poof: Apple’s market value decline since peak easily exceeds the value of nearly any U.S. company – January 4, 2019
Wall Street analysts slash Apple target prices – January 3, 2019
Advisor to President Trump: Apple’s sales should pick up when U.S.-China strike trade deal – January 3, 2019
Two things Tim Cook just did that make Apple look guilty today – January 3, 2019
CEO Cook issues memo to employees after Apple slashes revenue outlook for the first time in almost two decades – January 3, 2019
Apple’s earnings warning means CEO Tim Cook now has a major credibility problem – January 3, 2019
Loup Ventures: We continue to expect AAPL to outperform the rest of FAANG in 2019 – January 3, 2019
Open thread: Does Apple need new leadership? – January 2, 2019
CEO Tim Cook on why Apple lowered first-quarter revenue forecasts – January 2, 2019
Apple CEO Tim Cook issues public letter to investors, lowers guidance – January 2, 2019

18 Comments

  1. The headline assumes Tim Cook has a legacy he’ll want to save. I’m not sure that’s true.

    I’m just hoping Tim Cook and his bean-counter & marketing focused senior staff (certainly not product focused or customer focused) don’t do the stereotypical bean-counter reaction to reduced revenues: massive layoffs, curtailed IR&D efforts, and project cancellations.

  2. We must not forget how much we have accomplished.

    Hiring.

    Instead of looking for the BEST people we could find, we started looking for the most racially and sexually diverse workforce we could assemble! DIVERSITY! DIVERSITY! DIVERSITY! DIVERSITY!

    INNOVATION!

    We put together a committee on building a new MacPro. It’s only been 6 years since we made one!

    EMOJIS!!!!!

    GAY PRIDE PARADES!!!!!

    CARPOOL KAROKE!!!!

    WE SCREWED OVER ALEX JONES!!!

    WE GOT RID OF SOME CONFEDERATE FLAGS!

    We invested billions in Chinese clean energy technology!

    We invested a billion in a failing Chinese Ride Share company forcing American competitor UBER out of China!

    And iPhone….
    We keep tinkering with it, and jacking the price WAY up there! What could ever go wrong with that plan!

    1. NeverForget, you are absolutely correct. Apple used to have one hobby, the Apple TV. Now the company (read Tim Cook) has a bunch of them, virtue-signaling being an all-important one. Under Jobs Apple focussed all its energy and skill purely on its products and customers, not charities, social movements or feel-good irrelevancies. Apple’s leadership is not composed of dummies–they’re bright people who nonetheless need someone to guide them. Hopefully Tim will decide to focus. Either in wholly in Apple or wholly outside it.

    2. Don’t forget the wonderful edifice HQ building! I am sure it makes people want to pay even more than $1000 for an iPhone. Those drone videos alone are worth an extra $100 per phone. Right?

  3. Must say, do not agree with Macdailynews take that “Tim Cook stammered his way through the CNBC interview”. Watched the full interview and Tim was articulate and forceful in his explanation of the situation and made it clear that Apple inc. would respond to the situation. Everyone might just pause and remember that Apple inc. kept firing on all cylinders through the Major market upheaval from 2008 onwards, plus they did not have the huge cash war chest that they have today. This whole saga is much about nothing!!!!

    1. How many “defining moments” does Tim Cook have to have before the media leaves the man alone? How many “doomed” and “dire straights” moments does Apple have to have before the general public just stops listening to article writers because every year it’s the same old song and dance with them?

  4. People need to take a hard look at how the market has changed recently.

    Start with the senior executive at Huawei (daughter of the Founder) who was arrested in Canada and has China flaying around. The pressure is so strong in China that employees are being told to get a Huawei mobile phone or get another job. It is a national cause for China these days and returning to “normal” will be difficult to achieve.

    Don’t look for any miracle if Tim is replaced during the Huawei/China against Apple. An “executive” with a handful of MBA’s will not be that effective against a communist country who will support their corporate giants full speed.

    And, of course, we have the FUBAR of the increased tariffs from the idiots in the White House.

    2019 is going to be a tough year for a lot of companies. Apple is just one of the companies that have to slog through the China battles and Trump’s FUBARS.

    1. You are fundmentally correct, when you create a trade war against a Unitarian centrally controlled economy like China, that no longer needs the US to sustain momentum even if there will be an initial hit, it’s just too big to be intimidated, so expect retaliation and expect it in particular against the biggest, most vulnerable and most visible asset of the country seen as attacking it. It’s a serious message and its implications will likely be felt At It’s worst increasingly after the present President has gone back to the Apprentice.

      However that’s outside Apples control, what isn’t is Cooks failure for years to widen the product/income strategy at the company, preferring the easy but short sighted option of milking its biggest product imagining it has a captive audience that is anything but in this new competitive world. Cook is risk averse but over time that plan actually becomes the biggest risk of them all as many a company has discovered who didn’t diversify, many destroyed by apple ironically. It’s ironic that Apple became relavent by doing precisely that moving awY from its encumbrance products, but effectively and increasingly becoming 1990s Microsoft thanks to Cooks lack of vision, is now at the root of the problem. This design by committee has to stop but then you need a Jobs to select which individuals you put your faith in and Cook or/and events seem to have suppressed any potential leaders developing inside the company to champion. Ive becoming both anonymous and ineffective is probably not a coincidence under this regime, individual thought is squeezed into submission.

      1. Your first para is usual political stuff and China has far less to do with Tim’s misjudgment. The issue with China has existed for quite some time, but Tim is desperate in trying to divert attention and blame to China, which is deceptive.
        However, I am impressed by your take in your 2nd para, showing that you do have correct insight which you seldom disclosed. Congratulations. I also have to agree, which has been my long-time suspicion, that Tim’s iron fist and ruthless manipulation of people did not produce needed talents, but the only yes people.
        .

  5. Sorry Ken, but “returning to ‘normal’” would reinforce China’s behavior. It would send a clear message that we approve of intellectual theft, we approve of their tariffs being an order of magnitude (and more) higher than ours, and that we have essentially allowed ourselves to be bought by their cheap labor.
    As for “idiots.” The real idiots are the folks who believe that appeasement will change an autocrat’s behavior for the better, and the folks who think that endlessly continuing the same action will, by some miracle, cause a different outcome. The White House is smart enough to know that a different outcome requires trying something different.
    As for Tim Cook, it’s not his job to take on China. That’s the job of the government. It would be a help if Tim and the other Silicon Valley luminaries wouldn’t bow and scrape every time totalitarians made a demand. I don’t think anyone here suggested that Apple take on China. What was suggested is that Tim and the rest of Apple’s leadership should refocus on the things that made Apple great.

    1. You are delusional if you think Trump’s bullshit bluster is going to improve anything.

      First of all, buyers pay tariffs. His threats for random 25% new tariffs on his choice of goods (unless you grovel and kiss his ring to get a special exemption) is pure corruption and a direct tax on American consumers.

      Second, companies like Apple aren’t going to leave China until the wage there climbs to parity. No amount of taxation will offset the wage disparity plus relocation costs.

      Third, the USA isn’t the only buyer for cheap Chinese goods. The EU is bigger and emerging economies are growing. Ironically, Trump’s poorly thought out immigration policy is reducing US growth by repelling good immigrants. Under current trade mayhem, China is merely shifting its exports to other continents. Give it 6 months to relabel the boxes and reroute the ships and China will be as if Trump never occurred. Meanwhile US retailers Amazon and Walmart will have some ugly times.

      Trump isn’t winning the trade war. If the US wanted to make trade more fair, it would not conduct diplomacy by tweets. A wise leader would have quietly announced that his administration would propose new WTO multilateral trade treaty rules to curb IP theft, counterfeiting, commodity dumping, labor safety, and global ecological standards. The US would step up to the plate to demonstrate how to trade fairly and it would make money consulting other nations to get up to speed. Hucksters like China would face a unified planet rejecting their dirty disposable copycat goods. Tariffs overall would drop among clean nations helping workers there. International courts will judge trade disputes with real authority to impose serious penalties on abusive nations like China. The plot would not change with the next airing of Faux & Friends and the process would be transparent. Above all, being a multilateral world trade leader would bring increased human prosperity and health instead of focusing on lining the pockets of the Trump oligarchy. But that’s not what Trump is. Trump is a crook who cares nothing for anyone else. He lied his way through life and stupid suckers still support the slimebag.

      Cook is over his head. He doesn’t have the interest of Apple’s former customers in mind. He wants to run a media production and distribution service, so he should go produce gay rights movies for Sony. The executives who actually run Apple have decided that fashion markups on chinese made consumer portables with subscriptions is the future, and there’s nothing Trump will do to stop that shortsighted strategy. Apple will crumble when people eventually discover they are being ripped off inside an unkempt walled garden.

      1. First: Yup, buyers do indeed pay tariffs, but I suspect you know that’s a superficial analysis—tariffs are there to encourage citizens to not pay them. The object is to encourage buying domestically-produced goods. China fears American products, otherwise their tariffs would be at levels similar to ours.
        Second: It isn’t primarily the labor costs, though they obviously help. A major reason Chinese manufacturing is so attractive is the rapidity with which they can re-tool an assembly line and occupy it. That could be done over here, too.
        Third: The EU is already sating their appetite for Chinese goods. They will in no way make up for America’s consumers. Emerging markets have a helluva long way to go. Six months? Six years won’t come close.
        Fourth: The “wise leader” has been here and done that. It didn’t work. The WTO has rules about IP theft, counterfeiting, et cetera, et cetera. They don’t work. Demonstrating nice behavior to a cadre of totalitarians is will cause them to laugh uproariously and then take every advantage of nice behavior that they can think of.
        Fifth: A “unified planet” doesn’t exist and won’t as long as the planetary population exceeds one. Every organism and every nation must look out for its own best interests. Those interests are rarely in alignment with the interests of a bunch of other organisms or nations. That’s just the way it is.
        Sixth: I apologize, but the second half of your fifth paragraph utterly eludes me. It’s not exactly word salad, but seems to approach concept consommé.
        Seventh: Cook isn’t in over his head, he just needs to refocus. And I’m sorry, but your gay rights comment really ought to be beneath you, but hey, opinions are opinions and they reflect mostly on the one opining.

  6. These headlines are so Over the Top and senseless.. literally ! Including some of the naive and delusional comments made ! Mind boggling what panic combined with ignorance can do.

    Again.. why is this being overlooked so conveniently.

    1-Most of the problem is directly related to China and its economy and some political issues going on.

    ***2- even at revised level.. 84 billion revenue is the 2nd largest quarterly revenue for Apple ever!

    ***3- quote ““While we are disappointed to be falling short of our quarterly revenue goal, our fiscal first quarter was also a record setter for revenue from Services, Wearables and the Mac. iPad revenue grew double-digits over the year-ago quarter, and iPhone activations in the U.S. and Canada set new Christmas Day records. We expect to set all-time revenue records in key markets including the US, Canada and Mexico, Western European countries including Germany and Italy, and countries across the Asia-Pacific region like Korea and Vietnam. Our worldwide installed base of active devices also hit a new all-time high, reflecting the loyalty of our customers and their appreciation for the work you do.”

    4) BS rhetoric aside, facts are Apple under Tim Cooks leadership has grown 5 fold.. from a 50 billion revenue company to 250 billion in revenue while maintaining their normal margin of about 38% ! That is a HUGE accomplishment (specially considering massive transition hurdles , like passing of Steve, and move to the new campus to name a few . )

    And as for clean up..

    1-The biggest problem at Apple is Angela Ahrendts (imo ) and the BS Burburry culture/image she brought with her and probably had great sucess influcing the managemnet with.

    APPLE SHOULD BE HIGH-END FOR THE MASSES NOT LUXURY FOR FEW !

    2 Ives is good but overated.. and he is pushing unnecessary idiosyncratic esthetic obsessions way over function.. the balance is off !

    3- Eddy Cue. Mr Convolution … !

    Tim , clean up the bs.

  7. FWIW, if Apple had updated the iMacs more vigorously, including using higher capacity SSD drives and being reasonable with memory prices, it would have an extra $1500-$2000 in sales. But, they didn’t so for about $250 I updated my 2011 iMac with an SSD drive myself. Add, another $200+ for a more modern modem mesh system, had Apple developed that. And then at least another $150 if the Apple Home devices had not taken so long to hit the market. That’s a lot of sales from JUST ONE PERSON, that Apple left on the table.

    Sorry Apple, get real with the Macs or people like me are gone. And once we are gone, why stick with the higher priced iPhones and iPads?

  8. that’s what happens when you put a Supply Guy in charge of creative vision/direction –

    he has no clue about where the tech should go, and obviously is surrounded by people scared to tell him that he knows nothing about tech, and no-one wants to take responsibility either (classic bureaucratic company behavior)

    hes driving company creativity into the ground –

    buying back shares is a classic move for companies that want to control/manipulate their own stock price, Apple making 5 times more has sweet fk all to do about his abilities, its just population growth and nothing else (learn about population growth rate ffs)

    Apple revenue has nothing to do with creativity and new advances, everything is backwards, which is a direct indicator that there is no visionary in the company – just bunch of randoms throwing ideas around without a direction, its all in the open, anyone can see, the guy has no fkn clue, that’s the reason he focuses on what he does best – Supply/Sales

    they botched MacOs, iOS since v12 and Mojave, opened privacy holes that were not there and put a spin on some that its for “your own” benefit (screentime data could be accessed by any program and sent “home”, camera could get activated without user by an app even when disabled in settings, the restrictions are complete clusterfk and redundunt – added more clicks/touches to the interface…), and holes in Mojave were a direct assault on security that they still haven’t addressed to this day – this is what happens when the guy in charge has sweet fk all knowledge about tech, people can spin him bullshit and he will buy it because he doesn’t know better.

    they botched Macbook Air11 (all that needed to be done was bezel removal and screen upgrade, you’d have 12″ screen in 11″ Macbook Air model – simple, economic and iconic), but what did the idiot do? – he made a useless Macbook12, spent money on RnD, ads, etc, then took MacbookAir11 off the line..WTF? the guy is a retard

    they botched apple watch, iphone, and now they fk up MacPro big time and the screen, and everyone applauds for the pro market? – its a fken cheese grader ffs, with 1.4 Gigawats to fly back to the past? there’s nothing pro about that device accept the power supply – its pro fkn waste of energy.

    who’s fault is that? – his, because he doesn’t have the right knowledge to lead the tech, and obviously doesn’t have the right people in place for that either.

    cheers, let drink!

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