To those who say there’ll never be another Steve Jobs, you’re probably right. It’s too early to tell if CEO Tim Cook can take Apple to another level without Jobs driving, visionary force. Here’s a great way to make your own judgement about Cook vs. Jobs.
Videos from the AllThingsDigital conference. First, check out the Collected Videos of Late Apple Co-Founder Steve Jobs on iTunes.
Then, check out Tim Cook’s performance under fire from Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at the most recent AllThingsD conference.
The differences are telling. Jobs was charismatic and insightful. Cook comes across as a genteel, methodical, professional engineer, an executive who’s obviously in charge, but devoid of the sense of history that Jobs brought to an interview.
Cook simply repeated the company lines about products, the stock, competition, and Apple’s future plans.
Company line? Without skipping a beat, Cook pointed out– again– that Apple focuses not on stock, not on profit, not on features, not on price, but on making great products.
Just over two years ago, before Steve Jobs died, Cook presented what is now known as The Cook Doctrine:
We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products, and that’s not changing.
We’re constantly focusing on innovating.
We believe in the simple, not the complex.
We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.
We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.
We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.
And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.
And I think, regardless of who is in what job, those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.
Cook’s performance at AllThingsD is merely a repeat of The Cook Doctrine, dusted off to fit in the new and intense competitive environment– that Apple, despite the swirling vortex of competitors and media pundits– remains Apple.
Two items from the video struck me as telling, and you don’t read much about either one. The first has to do with product usage. While Android devices may outsell iOS devices by two, or three, or four to one, it’s iOS devices which get the most usage.
That’s a telling statistic which praises Apple’s strategy, and damns the efforts going into Android devices.
The second is what constitutes innovation. Cook outlined Apple’s view of innovation by pointing out the Mac and OS X, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, and iPad as industry changing, game changing innovation.
Compare that historical view with how today’s tech pundits seem to define innovation. Samsung, Google, Microsoft, and the second tier players BlackBerry, HTC, Nokia, and others seem to define innovation not as industry changing products, but as incremental changes to existing technology.
Apple does incremental advancements, too, and sometimes slower than competitors. That was true even when Apple was only about the Mac. But it’s the industry changing products that define Apple’s innovation.
Otherwise, Cook’s answers at AllThingsD were standard executive responses, giving little, hinting and teasing some, but otherwise devoid of the razor sharp insight that often came from Jobs.
One is a professional, competent, seasoned executive, while the other was a dynamic visionary that doesn’t come along every generation.
The real question that haunts me is this. Will Apple prosper and grow with one as it did with the other?