How Tim Cook transformed Apple after Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was a visionary. Tim Cook, by all accounts, is not. But, what Cook lacks in showmanship and inventiveness, he makes up for in “grind, grind, grind, grind,” Bloomberg News reports, driving down suppliers’ prices, demanding exacting quality from assemblers, and fulfilling product demand to the tune of millions upon millions of units.

Austin Carr and Mark Gurman for Bloomberg News:

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs
“Tim may not be able to design a product like Steve,” says Warren Buffett, who knows Cook well and whose Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has a stake in Apple worth $111 billion, as of a September filing. “But Tim understands the world to a degree that very, very few CEOs I’ve met over the past 60 years could match.”

Cook came to Apple in 1998 after a dozen years at IBM Corp. and a six-month stint at Compaq and seemed, at least to old Apple hands, devoid of any obvious personality. He’d work 18‑hour days and send emails all through the night. When he wasn’t at the office he seemed to live at the gym. Unlike Jobs, he had no pretensions to being an artist. “Tim was always pure work: grind, grind, grind, grind,” says one former Apple executive who worked with Cook in his early years at the company and who, as with other sources in this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of nondisclosure agreements and fear of corporate reprisals. “I always found him exceptionally boring.”

Apple’s turnaround in the ensuing years has generally been attributed to Jobs’s product genius, beginning with the candy-colored iMacs that turned once-beige appliances into objets d’office. But equally important in Apple’s transformation into the economic and cultural force it is today was Cook’s ability to manufacture those computers, and the iPods, iPhones, and iPads that followed, in massive quantities. For that he adopted strategies similar to those used by HP, Compaq, and Dell, companies that were derided by Jobs but had helped usher in an era of outsourced manufacturing and made-to-order products… Cook lowered the company’s month’s worth of stockpiles to days’ and touted, according to a former longtime operations leader, that Apple was “out-Dell-ing Dell” in supply chain efficiencies.

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook
Cook’s global supply chain greatly improved upon the fabrication approaches that Dell and Compaq had developed. The big PC brands often outsourced both manufacturing and significant design decisions, resulting in computers that were cheap but not distinctive. Cook’s innovation was to force Foxconn and others to adapt to the extravagant aesthetic and quality specifications demanded by Jobs and industrial design head Jony Ive… Apple’s power over suppliers grew after the release of the iPhone, which Foxconn manufactured and which sold 4 million units in its first 200 days. By 2009, an iPhone supply manager says, Apple increasingly took on a “brute-force” approach to dealing with suppliers in Asia. “I could say, ‘You do it this way or you’re toast,’ ” this manager says, adding that Apple started to “just beat the crap out of its vendors.”

In the post-Jobs Apple, Ive’s influence began to wane, while Cook asserted a more cost-conscious approach to new products. He ordered his operations team to work closely with the industrial design group from the earliest stages of the development process, rather than joining months in, as had been the norm under Jobs… And yet, even as Cook transformed Apple into a more diversified company, its dependence on China grew. The only way to drive economies of scale and manufacturing consistency was to concentrate more and more of Apple’s output in areas such as Shenzhen. “If you’re talking about making a million a day of something, launching on a dime, and having the capacity to do that, every machine has to be precise — and to have that happening in multiple countries is challenging,” says a former top executive. “The question becomes: Are you relying too much on one place?”

MacDailyNews Note: There are reams more in the full article — including dependence on China, global and domestic politics, COVID-19 challenges, antitrust claims, and more — here.


  1. Not everything in that Bloomberg article is correct. Remember that Bloomberg News frequently screws up technology reporting. And, of course, Bloomberg the man absolutely hates Trump and has for 3 decades. The other thing to remember about Bloomberg the man is that he made (and still makes) his money from “the Bloomberg Terminal” which is a way for Wall Street Professionals to get a jump on the “little guy” in stock trading. Largely Bloomberg has made his money off of the trading losses of the retail investor.

    I believe that Apple could manufacture its products for Americans inside of America. Also, the high quality products I’ve had from HP and Compaq were manufactured in American. Nothing I’ve ever used from Dell could be described as “high quality”. Basically, Apple innovated to make high quality products in China.

    If we learn anything from COVID it should be how vulnerable we are to production lines in China.

    There will be a day when I’ll refuse to buy Apple products unless they are made in a G7 or EU country or other country like South Korea, Taiwan or Australia.

    1. There is no question about the lack of credibility of anything coming from Bloomberg. Their reporting should always warrant a closer look. If they back something, ask why. If they denigrate something, really ask WHY. Bloomberg the man was definitely one of the generals in the cabal to destroy Trump.

      Tim Cook is also no saint. His hypocrisy knows no limits. He is as disingenuous as a person can be. His mealy-mouthed prayer-hands demeanor keeps him consistently at the top of the cringeworthy charts. His droning on and on about privacy while kowtowing to the virus exporting, privacy exploiting, slave labor torturing, America hating, world destabilizing Chinese Communist Party says far more about who and what he is than this article. He was another general in the anti-Trump conspiracy.

      Apple has grown largely from sticking to the Steve Jobs “I want to own everything” ideology. For doing that Cook deserves credit. Outside of that, he is one of the most dangerous people on the planet.

      1. The Mr. Rogers facade is weak cover for a stone-cold communist heart. Stalin didn’t have the power to pull the plug on a newspaper in 2 seconds like Tim did to Parler. He’s a control-freak creep taking marching orders from a coordinated criminal conspiracy, a high profile colonel at best.

  2. To give a little lee-way to Cook, the disgusting “prayer-hands demeanor ” is almost everywhere.
    It’s very, very tacky and plastic…as it implicitly aligns with a Buddhist sincerity.

    Speaking of software, it’s apparent that Apple is getting too large to manage it’s software well. Just one example…why is it Apple notes a misspelled word and offers no suggestion, but Google offers an instantaneous correction? This is inexplicable. They are NOT complicated words, btw. My speling sucks.

    Also, the times I’ve lost connection with an online audio feed and Apple Music cues up some random piece in my own music library is astounding. It would make some sense IF the cut was played recently, or from the same artist, but it’s without logic that I can figure.

    I listen to podcasts almost daily and the app is a mess. It’s a discombobulation of ergonomic norms.
    It also has a component that’s been creeping into Apple…the company making choices for the user.
    Apple, there’s no need to decide what podcast to feed after I’ve completed listening to one. I’m able to decide, plus…often times I want to review p-cast notes after listening and you’ve “disappeared” it.

    Why? Who’s presuming you know best?

    1. Could not agree more ..there are truly mind boggling idiosyncrasies and shortcomings in certain areas at Apple.. things that a 2 year old could recognize as unacceptable.. yet we see them green-lighted and released by Apple.
      For a decade or more now.. i have been writing, emailing and constantly complaining about Apple’s Spellcheck, Contextual word recognition and overall Search, data analytics and AI .. They are almost Jurassic by today standards…… and that how Apple’s lack of focus or initiatives to improve in these areas is constantly pushing Apple platform/ecosys user to Google’s( or other competitors ) platform to get some proper results!! BAD!
      Also bewildering is how Spellcheck and Predictive are in such disarray and exist in their own universe exacerbating the issues. Seems, sometimes, the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing at Apple.

      Another bewildering area.. Search/suggestion algorithm and AI deficiencies and inconstancies across the whole ecosys. It feels DUMB , real dumb at times!

      Add on top some inexplicable ergonomic UI ( and otherwise issues) …here and there!….Example: Music app and its functionality…. inefficient,.. packed with waste of screen real-estate and unnecessary need for extra steps by the user…. Why? Its so easy to fix!
      Sometime i wonder, how , how some things can be so neglected or bad… or what am i missing??… only to come to the conclusion that its not me… its pure negligence, lack of initiative or incompetence on the other side. It truly can be mind boggling…..
      And they seem not to care at all.. since most these issues have existed for long time .. enough time to have been tended to.
      At the end of the day… overall im happy with my choice of Platform.. but sometimes it can be as irritating as it can be when some key aspects are behind the competition and neglected to this degree!

      1. It astounds me when people associate stock/stockholder and Cook and link it to failure.
        I personally miss the ethos and story during the Jobs era, but my portfolio has grown unbelievable during the Cook years.

        With that said, Cook is boring, wooden and probably gets aroused when facing a big spreadsheet.

        1. Yes, people also became rich under Hitler’s regime of censorship and one party rule including a mob of Brown Shirts willing to commit arson, rape, looting and murder to keep the opposition under control. If you love your money and don’t give a shit about America, Tim Cook can make you some money. Until the government seizes it all. Yes, that comes next. And, there won’t be any opposition because Apple makes certain nobody is allowed to oppose. Tim Cook, today’s Brown Shirt in light loafers.

            1. I see Tim Cook in China with the slavemasters there who are enslaving the Hong Kong citizens and who routinely kill their people for whatever reason they please. You are a total communist took TxUser to go to hell. You communist Che lovers have ruined America. The destruction at the Capital was ALL done by friends of yours in BLM and Antifa. Again, go to hell. You worship Lucifer so you will love it there.

            2. From the Forum Guardian of Truth and Correctness, whom very recently scolded a very bad MDN writer-pleb…reminding them to stay on topic/subject (Apple).

              Did I miss the article’s mention of the Capitol, friends and association to Tim?

          1. Ken; believe me, I’m very, very bothered with Apple’s involvement in/with a country that’s dedicated to ruthlessly changing, harming and removing a culture/people in their country. I’m a stockholder, so in a way, I’m involved or, turning a blind eye, or both.

      1. Yeah, a greedy bastard is OK with making money off of slave labor. You and your money grubbing greedy selfish friends who love money more than freedom or life are today’s Scrooge’s. Pure selfishness.

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