Apple’s stock over the past month has taken an uptick. Whether or not that’s the start of a new era at the company is yet to be determined but up is better than down. Also impressive recently is Apple’s seemingly beleaguered CEO, Tim Cook. His testimony before the cranks of congress was memorable. We may long for the spice of life that co-founder Steve Jobs brought to Apple, but Tim Cook seems ready to step out of the closet again, and might be just what the doctor ordered to put a little more shine on Apple’s halo and guide the behemoth down the road of prosperity for a few more years.
While less flamboyant than Jobs, Cook is bold. He fired a Jobs protege rather than allow him to disrupt Apple’s highly valued and experienced management team. Cook went on record and stated Apple wouldn’t have anything new for the eager masses of customers until the fall. Not spring. Not summer. Fall. That’s an eternity for Apple watchers and pundits and literally invites criticism of Cook’s behind-the-scenes molding of the company.
But it is what it is. Bold.
Cook performed admirably in front of America’s usual congressional suspects, receiving praise and high marks for his authoritative candor and calm demeanor on a very public stage, mostly filled with dinosaurs parading as limelight seekers. Cook stands in stark contrast to the head of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, and the Jobs-wannabe-CEOs at Amazon and Google. And, in contrast to Steve Jobs, and that might be just what Apple needs.
It took Disney a few decades to become Disney again after the death of founder Walt Disney. What we have yet to see from Cook’s Apple is the next great thing, a truly innovative move toward the future, a product segment disruption of Jobsian stature. What Jobs was very good at doing was to usher in the future, sometimes kicking and screaming, with truly innovative products that changed the course of an industry.
Apple. Mac. OS X. iPod. iTunes. iTunes Music Store. iPhone. iOS. The App Stores. iPad.
Those are representative of the innovative eras and massive disruptions where Apple has excelled for a few decades. Contrast that record to the recent record of Apple’s competitors. Samsung’s idea of product innovation is two apps running on the same smartphone screen, or eye recognition in a camera (neither of which are exactly innovative, having been done long before Samsung). Google’s idea of innovation is to buy Motorola and then have Samsung build their latest smartphone. Microsoft’s idea of innovation is to make the dinosaur Xbox more expensive and more black.
For Tim Cook to come completely out of the closet, and step from behind the shadow of Steve Jobs, he will need to guide his inherited company into new territory, and not just polish the paint, clean the windows, and make Apple’s trains run on time.
This is Tim Cook’s Apple now. It’s time for him to make a mark. We’re waiting.