When it comes to Apple what passes for analysis is usually centered in the headline. That means the headline grabs your eyeballs, but real analysis is unlikely to follow. The perfect example of such synthetic analysis is Jason Hiner’s comparison of Apple CEO Tim Cook to former Apple CEO John Sculley.
Since taking the reigns from Steve Jobs in August 2011, Cook has guided Apple with a careful and conservative hand. There’s been very little drama, very few bold moves, and lots of measured, incremental steps.
While every piece of that sounds plausible, it’s mostly wrong. Let the facts peak for themselves.
The iPad mini launched under Cook’s reign, a less expensive iPad that easily cannibalized the iPad 4’s sales.
The iPhone 5S and iOS 7 launched under Cook’s reign, a product with a new breed of CPU, a fingerprint identity sensor, and a completely revamped operating system. Bold moves both.
How about drama? Cook kicked out heir-apparent and iOS chief Scott Forstall, also a bold move with great risk.
As the guy in charge, Cook approved the long delay between the iPad 4 and iPad mini and the iPad Air and iPad mini with a Retina display, forgoing sales and profits so Apple could get both products just right. Another bold move with a great risk.
Add to the list the Mac Pro, a high end product unlike any other, and manufactured in the U.S. of A. Another bold move with a great risk.
How does Tim Cook’s era compare to that of John Sculley, Apple’s CEO for ten years, 1983 to 1993? Sculley left Apple with $2-billion in cash. Cook has amassed a hoard of over $150-billion, and Apple is a far more profitable, diversified, and highly focused machine now than in the heady days of the early 1990s, with a vastly more profitable product line.
Hiner says Apple is mostly defending territory rather than being aggressive. One man’s hamburger is another man’s steak. Apple’s armchair quarterbacks want to see Apple launch a new product category every quarter despite the fact that Apple has never operated that way.
For Cook to shed comparisons to the Sculley era and to put Apple on course to thrive beyond just reaping the harvest on the iPhone and iPad, he’ll have to take strategic risks and expand into new markets. A year from now we should have an even clearer picture of the character of the Cook era at Apple.
Well, duh. A comparison of Cook to Sculley is lame at best, and stating that Cook will need to take strategic risks and expand into new markets is more obvious than insightful analysis. What Cook and Apple need to do is to avoid running the company based upon the changing daily trends of tech pundits posing as analysts. You know, the ones who claimed Apple was doomed if it didn’t ship a Mac netbook, are now the ones who claim Apple is doomed if it doesn’t do this or that.
Let Apple be Apple. So far, under Cook’s reign, which extends to the few years prior to Jobs’s death in 2011, Apple is still very much Apple.