CEO of Apple, Inc. — Tim Cook — is his own man. He is no Steve Jobs (who is?) and has certainly done many things differently than Jobs would have. This isn't to say that Cook’s direction is poor, and Jobs was perfect. Stated another way, Apple is no longer running on Jobs’ legacy thoughts and leadership. The ship is truly Tim Cook’s to maneuver.
1. Non-Profit Matching Funds: The best way Steve Jobs knew of how to give money to charities was to make his own employees rich and let them do with their money as they saw fit. Cook changed this in September 2011, creating an Apple matching policy for any employee who gave up to $10,000 USD to any 501(c)(s). Jobs might have fired Cook for “wasting” Apple’s money like this.
2. Maps Apology: Tim Cook not only apologized for Apple’s Map product falling short of the best experience possible, but went on to suggest that customer could use Bing, MapQuest, Google or Nokia maps instead. In a billion years, Steve Jobs would have never suggested other competitive mapping products in the wake of a dismal Maps launch. Rather, Jobs would have fired several Maps employees and forced the remaining crew into hard labor. His demand would’ve been that Maps be fixed in a few weeks time or else. Publicly, Jobs may have talked to a few media outlets about Maps, and promoted the top 5 things Maps does better than any other app, and how Maps continues to do great things better and better with each passing day. Steve Jobs apology would have been a non-apology, stating the software is maturing, but what it currently has is awesome — now go use it. Tim Cook’s approach was an apology stating Apple was sorry for launching a beta-level product, and everyone can use competitive products until Apple gets it right.
3. Going Into Debt: Under Jobs, Apple was a company that not only recovered from the brink of extinction but amassed one of the largest cash reserves the world has ever seen. Jobs was proud that Apple was debt-free and did not owe anything to anyone. Cook, on the other hand, saw the financial advantage of borrowing money when interest rates were extremely low. “Free money” it is called in some circles. While Apple has tens of billions in cash, much of it is overseas. If that money were repatriated Apple would lose several billions off the top in taxes. The answer then was to borrow now, when interest rates are low, so Apple can invest where ever they need, regardless of geography.
4. Firing of Scott Forstall: Scott Forstall was Job’s iOS guru. It is documented that Jobs liked getting into arguments. People who withered in this kind of atmosphere were considered weak in Jobs’ mind. Forstall was almost a chip off of the Steve Jobs’ block in this regard. Scott had no problem telling the rest of Apple his way was the right way when it came to UI, iOS and Skeuomorphic design. With Cook in charge, however, this combative style with other executives was not tolerated for long (especially after Bob Mansfield resigned because of Forstall). There also was the issue that Forstall wanted to be CEO, but Cook got the job. Eventually Forstall was showed the door by Cook in order to bring harmony back to the executive team.
Tim Cook is not a bad CEO compared to Jobs — he’s just different. What we have learned over the past few years is how both men handled publicly exposed situations much differently. In that regard, Cook has been a “kindler and gentler CEO that Jobs was.
Cook is doing one thing extremely well, and that is being his own man. Jobs once told Cook to do what he thought was right, and not ask “What would Steve do?” Instead Cook was to follow his own intuition. We may not agree with everything Tim Cook has done to date, but Jobs missed the mark on occasion too (Social Networking music with Ping or the G4 Cube). For certain Jobs never showed weakness, never publicly admitted a mistake — he simply moved on. This may be one trait Tim could learn from Steve to help him become an even better CEO.
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