How Apple’s Tim Cook builds upon Steve Jobs’ successes

Apple shares today are at all-time record highs. The company’s market valuation is $1.9 trillion — bigger than the GDP of Canada, Russia or Spain. And Apple, led by Tim Cook and now the world’s most valuable company, continues to dominate the smartphone market which Steve Jobs created with the iPhone.

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook
Tripp Mickle for The Wall Street Journal:

Where Mr. Jobs orchestrated great leaps of innovation, generally defined by new products capable of upending industries, Mr. Cook has made Apple more reflective of himself. The 59-year-old CEO, like the company he leads, is cautious, collaborative and tactical.

Mr. Cook’s Apple, many former senior Apple executives say, is a corporate colossus pursuing growth by building an empire of products and services around his predecessor’s revolutionary inventions. Its success in wooing customers in China has helped sales soar while its drive for efficiency has kept costs under control…

After coming out publicly as gay in 2014, Mr. Cook has amplified the company’s advocacy of privacy, sustainability and human rights. Those stances have opened Apple to criticism that the company doesn’t always live up to its values, particularly in China, where it has ceded operations over the data centers storing customer information to a Chinese state-owned company, bowed to government pressure to remove apps tied to Hong Kong protests and worked with a supplier that the U.S. government says used forced labor of Uighurs, an ethnic minority group… Apple’s reliance on China also has unnerved investors and thrust the company into the middle of escalating tensions between Beijing and the White House…

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs
Mr. Jobs, who largely rebuffed succession planning, tapped Mr. Cook to succeed him in part because, as Apple’s operations chief, he ran a division devoid of drama and focused on collaboration, people who were close to Mr. Jobs said. His ascent surprised some outsiders because — as Mr. Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson — Mr. Cook wasn’t a ” product person,” but colleagues understood the selection. Apple needed a new operating style after losing someone irreplaceable.

Mr. Cook was a relative stranger to the creative endeavors favored by Mr. Jobs, and after the Apple founder’s death, he did little to change that. Instead, he focused on a series of small steps that together are building a fortress around the iPhone: a smartwatch, AirPods and music, videos and other subscription services…

Mr. Cook reshaped Apple’s board, replacing product- and marketing-minded directors with finance-oriented ones. Without Mr. Jobs as product conductor, Mr. Cook has called on software, hardware and design executives to collaborate, people familiar with the shift said. The approach has shown his tendency to deliberate and be careful, letting ideas develop with less oversight than Mr. Jobs applied…

Even as he has delegated some product-development responsibilities, Mr. Cook has stepped in more directly on political issues, navigating tension between the U.S. and China… He worked through President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law to foster a direct relationship with the president. He also met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and economic adviser Larry Kudlow. The administration exempted Apple’s smartwatch from an early round of tariffs…

Auburn President Jay Gogue said Mr. Cook has talked about Colin Powell’s belief that management is tasked with moving an army from point to point, while leadership moves an army to where it never thought possible. “There are times to be a good manager and times to be a good leader,” Dr. Gogue said. “He understands that.”

MacDailyNews Take: Steve Jobs was long-term thinker, a visionary, and he knew, better than most anyone else, that the next “Steve Jobs” would have to arrive organically, not be appointed. Jobs understood that there is an ebb and flow. There are times for caretakers and there are times for revolutionaries.

There’s tons more in the full article here.


    1. Tim Cook removed all the in/out ports on MacBook Pros with made them not a ‘pro’ laptop but a beginner’s laptop. He came out with the crappy, easily breaking butterfly keyboards. He still won’t fix the awkward side-close button of iPhones (they should be on top so they won’t be easily pressed). So no, he’s no Steve Jobs successor.

    1. Innovation usually must go hand in hand with quality. Or someone else will overtake you with better quality / cheaper version. It also helps if you have complete ecosystem which supports and integrates with your innovations. Apple can afford to wait on the the next big thing for 5-10 years, while they continue with iterative innovation on their current products. Their massive, thoroughly comprehensive and integrated ecosystem allows them this luxury.

      Don’t think anyone else has this advantage.

  1. I am here. I have been since I opened my shop and showed incredible skills as a manager of shops, a little league taxi driver and a meeter if famous people. I have all the skills needed to run a visionary shop and so the next Steve is, humbly, me.

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