In the past decade, Apple has grown huge. Its fiscal 2019 revenues were six times the size of revenues in fiscal 2009. Its new headquarters building is larger than the Pentagon. Each of its five business segments would be a Fortune 500 company on its own.
But what about its products? Its culture?
Cook, Apple’s savvy head of global operations, knew the company inside out. But he isn’t a product guy, and he lacked Jobs’ close relationship with Apple’s design wizard, Jony Ive. So he turned over most hardware and software decisions to Ive.
The pressure was on for Cook’s Apple to bring out the next beautiful, premium, innovative product to maintain Apple’s streak, its margins, and its growing ecosystem of devoted users.
Cook’s first big all-new product was the Apple Watch, which was released in 2015. But it took until the third generation of the Watch in 2017 for Apple to find the right hardware, software, and functionality. It was essentially a reboot.
MacDailyNews Take: To be fair, after the iPod, Jobs’ first big all-new product was the iPhone, which was released in 2007. But it took until the third generation of the iPhone in 2017 for Apple to find the right hardware, software, and functionality. It was essentially a reboot.
The other major hardware success under the Cook regime has been AirPods, the wireless earbuds released in 2016 that seem to be everywhere, looking like white plastic earrings.
Apple hasn’t said how many Watches and AirPods it’s sold, but they’re widely believed to be the dominant players in each of their categories and, in the grand Apple tradition, the envy of competitors that scramble to ape them…
Still, neither of these hardware successes has matched the impact or scale of Jobs’ greatest hits.
MacDailyNews Take: Cook can’t win. The iPhone is arguably the best-selling, most successful product ever. Against this, Cook is judged by some; unfairly.
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). — SteveJack, MacDailyNews, November 6, 2017
Listen, Cook has his shortcomings. He’s duller than a matte white floor dusted in flour. He tends toward sanctimoniousness, until China directs him to walk into a klieg light’s worth of abject hypocrisy every other month.
He handed Jony the keys and, regardless of missteps and obvious, growing disinterest, failed to take them back until half a decade+ had passed between Mac Pro updates, through years of inferior keyboards in order to save half a millimeter about which no one not named Jony gave a rat’s ass, etc. But, to use the absolute pinnacle of products to bludgeon Cook is disingenuous. It’s like blaming James Harden for not being really that great at basketball because, you know, Michael Jordan.
Not to be forgotten, Jobs saddled Cook with The Colossal Distraction™ (Apple Park), as well, which certainly contributed to many missteps.
Cook does bear the responsibility for a series of actions that screwed up the Macintosh for years. The beloved mainstream MacBook Air was ignored for five years. At the other end of the scale, the Mac Pro, the mainstay of professional audio, graphics, and video producers, was first neglected then reissued in 2013 in a way that put form so far ahead of function that it enraged its customer base.
Some insiders think Cook allowed Ive’s design team far too much power and that the balance Jobs was able to strike between the designers and the engineers was gone, at least until Ive left the company earlier this year.
MacDailyNews Take: Technically, Jobs left Ive with far too much power. Cook’s fault was not rectifying that sooner, but we’ve heard that Cook, if not an outright conflict avoider, doesn’t relish it (or use it to his advantage) as much as Jobs, certainly.
We greatly admire Cook’s commitment to privacy. We wish he’d spend what it takes to get the word out to the world about how vastly superior Apple is on that very important matter over the privacy-trampling Googles and Facebooks of the world. It might even help Apple with government competition regulators. It’s a win-win to spend the money to get the word out and, God knows, if it’s one thing Apple has, it’s money. Pound the privacy message, Tim, until everyone is sick of hearing it and then pound it 10X more.
Again, it’s unfair to criticize Cook for not coming up with something bigger than the iPhone. There is nothing bigger. This side of sub-$1,000 personal teleporters, there may never be anything like it.
By any reasonable measure, Apple Watch and AirPods are blockbuster products about which any other company on earth can only dream. Apple Music is also a blockbuster success! So, really, Tim Cook’s Apple had a great decade, including at least three new blockbusters! (And, btw, have you seen Apple’s share price?)
We continue to look forward to Apple’s bright future, especially as we believe Apple Glasses have the potential to change everything at least as much as did iPhone, and maybe even more!