It's still an open book question: Will Tim Cook succeed as CEO of Apple over the long-term, and perhaps even the short? While the latter seems to be being put to rest rather quickly, the former is a valid question, one worth exploring at the very least.
Based on Cook's Q&A session at the D10 conference, he may not be a tech visionary, but he doesn't believe he needs to be either. Cook is a financial wizard, with a keen eye on how to leverage the supply chain to maximum effect, while leaving the competition scrambling, forever playing catchup. You won't see Tim walking the Apple campus in flip-flops, a white tank top and jean shorts playing the part of Steve Jobs Part II, but he's a mature enough man to understand he just needs to be the best Tim Cook he can be and that alone keep Apple what Apple is – the essence of creative and main street rolled into one simplified solution set.
There's an underpinning in Cook that is starting to permeate Apple to Wall Street, and it's how Cook is brining a steadiness to the Apple table, something never seen before under Jobs reign. Whether it is an interview or how he is approaching his CEO role at Apple, the quality of Tim's cadence and performance to-date can't be denied.
Jobs had large blind spots when it came to others in the tech industry. It's unlikely Cook will miss others attempting to blindside Apple. Jobs was often rude or impulsive when talking down others in the industry. At 10D, and in other instances, Cook has maturely chosen to side-step the opportunity to trash others, pushing the spotlight back onto Apple.
Most question Cooks visionary abilities vs that of Jobs as the lifeblood of Apple. But at D10, Tim may have unwittingly exposed Jobs vision abilities as mere illusion. "... he [Steve Jobs] would flip on something so fast that you would forget that he was the person who was taking the 180 polar position on it the day before." said Cook. Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs also sheds light on this idea that Jobs would flip. Jobs entire team was pushing for iPod on Windows, with Jobs finally relenting in a tirade, only to return and encourage the entire process.
Is Cook any much different? Both Steve and Tim have mentioned several times that they believe their internal teams make a pretty good proxy of what problems exist in the market, and what would make a good product. Jobs often caved when consensus was strong. Tim Cook appears to also be Chief Executive Consensus Maker. Future product decisions and direction is looking like less of a gamble under Cook as each day passes.
When Cook mentioned to Walt and Kara (onstage at D10) that Apple has never purchased a company for revenue stream, but had instead focused on the smaller players that can aid an Apple in a specific area, it also demonstrated how Cook understands how to make the right cultural calls for Apple; another critical area Cook understands.
Steve Jobs laid the groundwork at Apple and ruled with an iron fist, but perhaps the harder job is weeding the garden and continuing to making it grow. New product is sure to sprout, and Cook understands what that should be, where it should be planted, and how to make it grow and fit in with the rest of the Apple garden.
Cook is the perfect helm master in the wake of the fiery Steve Jobs.
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