Apple iOS News, apple, CEO, Disney, leadership, samsung, steve jobs, Tim Cook — August 27, 2012 13:35 — 2 Comments
An impossible job? Tim Cook’s record 12 months after taking over from Jobs
Apple’s new CEO takes on board his predecessor’s dying words and follows his own voice to keep the Cupertino company firmly on track
“Don’t ask what Steve would have done. Follow your own voice,” was the advice Steve Jobs gave to Tim Cook when he replaced the ailing Apple chief executive 12 months ago on 24 August.
In other words, Jobs was saying ‘don’t pull a Disney’. He firmly believed that the animation studio became ‘paralyzed’ with fear after its visionary founder’s death with the executive management afraid to take risks or chances on its own.
As Cook celebrates his first anniversary at Apple’s helm with a court victory over arch rivals Samsung for patent infringement that resulted in a $1.5bn fine for the South Korean company, things ain’t turned out that bad – on the whole.
When the super-efficient, ultra-dedicated, but less than charismatic second-in-command at Apple took over the running of the Cupertino company from Jobs, the nearest thing Silicon Valley had to a demigod, many observers wondered out loud how the single 52-year-old would cope with the pressure of stepping into ‘The Almighty”‘s shoes.
They need not have worried, the company continues to smash records in spectacular style. Apple’s market capitalisation reached over $623bn a week ago, making it the most valuable listed company (if you ignore inflation) of all time, beating its once arch-rival Microsoft, whose market worth hit $615bn in December 1999, reported The Economist magazine.
Of course Jobs’s influence remains ever present in not only the success of the iPhone and the iPad tablet computer, but also the litigation battle with Samsung over the copying of Apple’s patents. It was Jobs that threatened to go ‘thermonuclear’ against Apple’s rivals who he perceived were blatantly copying its smartphones and tablets.
A hard act to follow? You bet, but Cook deserves praise for the way he has handled an almost impossible transition.
In an internal email to Apple employees, immediately after the jury’s verdict in the Samsung trial came through, Cook wrote:
Today was an important day for Apple and for innovators everywhere.
Many of you have been closely following the trial against Samsung in San Jose for the past few weeks. We chose legal action very reluctantly and only after repeatedly asking Samsung to stop copying our work. For us this lawsuit has always been about something much more important than patents or money. It’s about values. We value originality and innovation and pour our lives into making the best products on earth. And we do this to delight our customers, not for competitors to flagrantly copy.
We owe a debt of gratitude to the jury who invested their time in listening to our story. We were thrilled to finally have the opportunity to tell it. The mountain of evidence presented during the trial showed that Samsung’s copying went far deeper than we knew.
The jury has now spoken. We applaud them for finding Samsung’s behavior willful and for sending a loud and clear message that stealing isn’t right.
I am very proud of the work that each of you do.
Today, values have won and I hope the whole world listens.
While this is an undoubted victory for Apple, and a huge relief for Cook personally, the transition from executive vice president of worldwide sales and operations to CEO has not been all plain sailing for Cook.
In July Apple’s share price fell sharply after the company’s quarterly earnings disappointed investors, even though its net profit rose by 21%, to $8.8 billion. Then there was the fallout and negative publicity regarding Apple’s use of Foxconn, a Chinese supplier under fire from labour activists for failings such as excessive working hours at its mainland facilities.
Cooke personally intervened and went on a highly publicised tour of a Foxconn factory in Shenzen and pledged to improve workers’ conditions there.
The Economist reported that the Fair Labour Association, a non-profit group that audits workplaces, said progress had been made, but more still needed to be done to cut overtime hours without unduly harming workers’ incomes.
“I think he’s a little bit more sensitive to criticism than Steve Jobs was,” Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies, a consultancy, told The Economist.
Cook also delighted investors and Wall Street when earlier this year Apple paid its first dividend since 1995, something that Jobs, for whatever reason, remained reluctant to do.
Cook has proved, while he clearly loves a scrap as much as his predecessor, he has also brought a human touch to Apple, the big question is whether he can harness the talent at his disposable and not only keep the creativity flowing but inspire its engineers and programmers to even bigger and better things.
In other words, stop Apple from doing ‘a Disney’.