Three Guys and a Podcast: Apple News & Analysis
Widely consider a joke, the question of, “Who has been a more successful Apple employee: Tim Cook or Steve Ballmer?” Funny as it sounds, it rings true in some circles, and the comparison and contrast between the two men is worth thinking about.
Both Cook and Ballmer became the successors to high tech empires that were at the top of their game. While Bill Gates did not pass away, he did step aside from the day to day operations and stayed on the board or directors (he also is the company’s largest stock holder). This left Steve Ballmer in charge of a company at its peak — a company that could do no wrong. At the time of Steve Ballmer's ascension to becoming Microsoft CEO, the company had done nothing more than amass a track record of success and mammoth growth.
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.
That's right, Ive's and company, not Cook and company. Don't get me wrong, Apple is Tim Cook's ship, but he isn't the showman or the man that makes the hardware and software design magic happen. Cook is the man behind the curtain controlling the gears, but Jony Ive and Craig Federighi are the hardware and software gurus that Apple's magic possible.
Tim Cook is a comfortable CEO. He isn't scared to let others take the limelight, presenting and promoting products for Apple. Cook simply isn't concerned with making Apple about himself, he's concerned with making Apple great. Some may argue Apple is great, but that's not how they look at it internally, not even close. Whomever and whatever it takes to keep Apple on the cutting edge and successful, that is what Cook will manage and promote. Over time, as Apple's success continues it will only further reflect on Tim Cook's CEO competence and capabilities. Clearly, Cooks' management style and media persona is different than Steve Jobs, but seriously, how could it anything but different? What is beginning to truly show through is Tim Cook is comfortable being his own man, doing things his way, and that Apple is on the cusp of being a run away success under his leadership style.
The evolution and changing of markets. It is inevitable. Companies come and go. Those who struggle either find an exit through a buy-out from a more successful company or go out of business. One of the determining factors to which road a struggling business travels is whether they have something unique to offer the marketplace. This something unique will take others far too long to build themselves or cost too much time and resources to develop in-house. Therefore purchasing the struggling company for their “something special” becomes an attractive choice — that is, if it can afford to purchase the business.
Apple is rebooting its award winning ad campaign, but this time around it has Tim Cook’s signature all over it.
Apple is taking to the airwaves with a new 60 second ad campaign, focused solely on its brand. Apple’s first brand reboot came in 1997 when Steve Jobs reemerged as Apple’s iCEO and left an indelible mark on the culture of tech, with the amazing Think Different campaign. No products, no glitz, just the impactful words “Here's to the crazy ones...” Apple positioned itself as the heart of the nonconformist during a time when 95 percent of the world was using a Microsoft PC.
Marissa Mayer, formerly of Google and now CEO of Yahoo!, has been making some major headlines in her first year as CEO. Where most would fail to list any one of her predecessors, Mayer is doing her best to make sure Yahoo! is another Silicon Valley turn around story — maybe even a rival to Apple’s story.
The very idea, that Yahoo! could be another Apple, brings to mind, what if Cook doesn't do as well as expected, and what if Mayer were tapped as Apple’s next CEO?
Sony, Samsung, Vizio and Sharp are just a few of the titans in the HD-TV universe. Each has carved out its share of the market, exercised control over a distribution channel and built a strong brand loyalty. When Apple decides to jump into this market, the question is whether or not they can duplicate what they did to the mobile phone market when they announced the iPhone, nearly six years ago?
It seems since TIm Cook took the controls at Apple it's been one ho-hum Keynote after another. Whatever happened to the day when Steve Jobs would say, "... oh, and one more thing..." and then that thing would be revolutionary. I remember when Steve did this in 2007 at MacWorld with the iPhone. It was totally awesome. Then three years later he did it again with the launch of iPad. However, since 2010 Apple has released new versions of existing products, making them better and better, but nothing revolutionary.
Apple has enjoyed an incredible run since the launch of the iPhone — and one could argue since the launch of the first iPod, or even first iMac. Apple's been on a roll. But to keep the momentum going, Apple needs to have a strategy for what's next.
While I don't have a crystal ball (yet), Apple clearly has a strategy to ensure they are prisoners to no one. Jobs saw this happen to Apple when he had to cut a deal in the late 90's with Microsoft. Without Microsoft's promise to develop software for the Mac OS, the Mac platform was dead. That deal was life support for Apple, and I'm pretty sure Jobs said, "Never again."
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.