Tim Cook’s Apple vs. Steve Jobs’ Apple

Apple Inc.’s “management oversees a workforce of 132,000, which has more than doubled in size since Tim Cook took over as CEO from co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011,” Aaron Tilley and Wayne Ma report for The Information. “Nineteen people directly report to Mr. Cook, overseeing hardware, software, services, chips, artificial intelligence, marketing, finance and other areas (the figure includes Mr. Cook’s executive assistant and excludes a senior leader who reports to Mr. Cook and another executive).”

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook
Cook “avoids meddling in product decisions, as Mr. Jobs did, people familiar with his leadership said. ‘What’s different today is that Tim is much more of a delegator,’ said David Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School, who has studied Apple extensively. ‘Apple is a more traditional type of organization today relative to what it was under Steve,'” Tilley and Ma report. “Relations between the company’s senior vice presidents are less politically volatile than they were in the Jobs era, said current and former employees. When conflicts arise, Mr. Cook expects his lieutenants to resolve their differences. Mr. Jobs often picked sides and saw benefits to pitting executives against each other, they said.”

“The downside, though, is that Apple no longer has a singular voice akin to that of Mr. Jobs, whose instincts on product and marketing matters were unusual for a CEO,” Tilley and Ma report. “While Apple still releases innovative products, it has faced growing criticism that its offerings are no longer as inspiring and polished as they once were.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The Apple Watch is a perfect example of the difference between Steve Jobs’ Apple and the post-Steve era under Cook. We, the users, were the Apple Watch alpha and beta testers, collectively standing in for Steve Jobs, doing much of what the singular genius would have done before release by brute force and sheer numbers after release. It took four generations of Apple Watch, but we’re here now!

Of course, what we predicted years ago has yet again come to pass:

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs
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.

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. — MacDailyNews, April 8, 2014

There is a pattern of botched/incomplete launches from Apple Inc. under Tim Cook that is rather glaring and worrisome.

Apple’s management team should really stop whatever they’re doing right now and take a long, hard, cold look in the mirror.

This is one time where Tim Cook & Co. really should be asking themselves, “What would Steve do?”

Because what Steve would do is push harder, not settle for less than the best and not be carelessly frittering away the brand equity that he (along with Jony Ive, Tim Cook, Phil Schiller, Eddy Cue et al.) worked so incredibly hard to build.MacDailyNews, November 18, 2015

Apple only really works when one person is in charge. The problem is that said overlord has to be multifaceted and multitalented and there was, of course, only one Steve Jobs. 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.MacDailyNews, January 9, 2017

Half a decade after Steve Jobs’ death, people are beginning to see the results of the lack of a charismatic, focused leader.

You cannot go from Steve Jobs to someone who “doesn’t like people arguing” and not effect a profound culture change.MacDailyNews, April 10, 2017

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). [It also might be impossible for anyone to be so involved in the hardware and software design to be able to step back far enough to experience it as the end user would and therefore be able see a product’s flaws from that, the most important, end user’s perspective.]

Cook needs to find people who are obsessive about the end user experience and assign them to these type of projects… 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

Apple’s desperate Mac Pro damage control message hints at a confused, divided company – April 6, 2017
What Steve Jobs gave Apple that Tim Cook cannot – November 18, 2015
The culture at Apple changed when Tim Cook took over as CEO – April 10, 2017
Lazy Apple. It’s not hard to imagine Steve Jobs asking, ‘What have you been doing for the last four years?’ – December 9, 2016
Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015


  1. I thought Jony Ive would be the next of kin to S. Jobs. With him on board, I believed Apple would continue to flourish with ideas, products and design. Jony has filled only one role since S. Jobs departure. That of continuing to obsess over product detail. It’s clear now, how much influence S. Jobs truly had. Arguably Apple’s best products came about in the Jobs/Ive era. What have we had since? A relative mish-mash of somewhat visionary products (Mac Pro), with exquisite design, but poor performance and upgradability. It’s like they revisited one of Jobs biggest failures (the Cube) and tried to get it right, but didn’t. Steve had the vision to see the whole picture. The idea, the design, the marketing, the execution, and so on. Without him around, there may be shining stars at Apple, but none that are the true North Star.

  2. Apple was 13 times smaller when Jobs was there. No one can replace him just as no one could replace Walt Disney. Apple is still today cherished as one of the world’s greatest brands, as such subject to unrelenting unreasonal criticisms. There will always be Apple whiners including this website.

    1. “Apple was 13 times smaller when Jobs was there. ”

      That’s another thing.
      Apple became way too big unnecessarily.
      As many as 13,000 employees or so in that hugely wasteful and inefficient spaceship alone, but controlled tightly only by a handful of old boy’s club?
      In many cases, the size hinders the agility and creativity of talented people.

      1. Mr T You are wrong here, Steve Jobs took Apple public to fund his innovation which drove demand and grew the company to the size it is today. Also note that Steve Jobs created the Spaceship not Tim Cook, to respond to the enormous growth of the company, and the worlds greatest brand.

    2. I remember when Sony was “cherished.” Now not so much and for similar failures of leadership reasons.

      Ever consider sometimes “whining” actually has it’s basis in fact, products and performance?

    3. I have to agree with ripcity as much as it hurts, in some respects.

      The car, once it became a consumer item, really didn’t change that much. We are finally reaching the point where revolutionary aspects of components are what driving change. Electric vs internal combustion engine for example.

  3. As I see it, one of the biggest problems in Apple under Cook is just like what Jobs had mourned when he saw the sugar water salesman came along. Scully was brought in to build a more disciplined corporate culture rather than worshipping a single wild genius. We know what had happened after that. A boring and buttoned-down corporate executive type did not fit into the culture of Apple and was incapable of making Apple great. Eventually, it took Jobs’ return to put Apple back into a track. I see a very similar situation happening (or going to happen) now.
    Under Jobs, employees were invigorated and had pride in what they are doing and their products. They wanted to please consumers in the way Jobs wanted and they enjoyed it. It’s been lost in the hands of boring bean counters who could only look at things in one-quarter increment with greed and arrogance. Sorry for the harsh words, but there definitely is something critical missing in today’s Apple. Or, we should not see Apple with the former glory (and wishful thinking). It is just another corporation.

    1. Harsh words? You just call it as you see it. I agree with you. It’s just odd how much smaller and less wealthier companies seem to be leading the way with exciting products. What’s Apple doing exactly? I’m not talking about folding smartphones but things like laptops and desktops. Apple’s doing OK with iPads and AppleWatch. I still think Apple is letting their A-series processors go to waste. Apple should be able to do a lot more with them in other products. The new Mac Pro should, for all intents and purposes, be a beast of a computer with no peers, but somehow I don’t think it’s going to turn out that way.

  4. So the Watch took 4 generations to “get right”. How many generations did the iPhone take? Steve didn’t ‘t get it right the first time around. The core concepts were there, but the technology was not in place. Each release was catching up to where they wanted to be. When the Watch adds PulseOx and Blood Glucose readings then it will have “caught up” to where I want it to be. Until then I’ll be happy with my Watch 4 that I got for Christmas. 😉

  5. It’s going to be quite difficult to top the iPhone, no matter who becomes Apple’s CEO. I can’t even imagine a future device that’s going to be more useful than today’s smartphone. I doubt it will be either a smartwatch or smart-glasses. It’s hard to predict the future but I certainly hope Apple plays some major part in it.

    I’m a long-term shareholder, but it seems as though now Apple is being run strictly by bean counters who aren’t interested in offering products the masses can enjoy or afford. Apple should acquire some new enterprise revenue streams so they can experiment more with consumer products. I don’t know what Apple has in their laboratories, so maybe they are doing some products with radical designs. We’ll never know until we see them.

    As for Jony Ive, I really don’t know what type of designs he’s after. He might be good at designing laptops but he needs to stay away from desktops if those iMac and Mac Mini designs are his. I’ve never seen the point of putting mobile chips in desktops. That just doesn’t make any sense to me if desktops aren’t meant to be mobile.

  6. I am not a huge Tim Cook fan but I disagree that Apple Watch was a beta. If it was then so was Steve Jobs first iPhone which he no apps and worked on only one network. It evolved beautifully and so has the Watch.

    Not the Apple TV sad to say. It still seems to be a hobby.

    1. Wrong. I’ve used every flagship iPhone and Apple Watch since release.

      The iPhone debuted with a UI that is pretty much the same as today. The Apple Watch debuted with a UI that was dramatically different. It was an alpha product at release and a beta product until watchOS 3.

  7. “Cook “avoids meddling in product decisions, as Mr. Jobs did, people familiar with his leadership said. ‘What’s different today is that Tim is much more of a delegator,’ said David Yoffie”

    In other words, Cook does not have a clue what is going on, good or bad, unless he hears about it later in a staff meeting.

    What, didn’t noticed the flagship Apple product of ALL TIME was not upgraded going on six years?

    I take offense to the word “meddling” as to EXCUSE his hands off approach. This reads like a political apologist cover story.

    The buck stops at the top, but then again, we don’t have a hands on tech genius running Apple anymore… 🤔

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