Apple is ruled by CEO Tim Cook. I like Cook. He seems like a straight shooter; an experienced executive with a heart and a degree of humility often lacking at that level of business, and his management style– and success– stands in stark contrast to Apple’s iconic co-founder, Steve Jobs.
Like Jobs, Cook has penned a few missives that have gained a level of notoriety on various issues. Comparisons? A few.
Jobs castigated Adobe with his famous Thoughts on Flash, one of his best ever, lengthy, but to the point. Flash is bad for mobile devices. Period:
Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.
Jobs’ conclusion was prescient:
New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.
That’s exactly what Adobe did. Flash is dead. Open standards rule.
What about Tim Cook? Years before Jobs died, The Cook Doctrine signaled the change in leadership.
We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We are 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 that 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.
We can argue and quibble over minute details, but Apple became the most prosperous company on earth after Cook took over the reigns from Jobs. Back in 2002 Apple was about to miss its most recent earnings guidance by $200-million. Jobs’ Press Release contained about 200 words. Tim Cook was forced to write a similar earnings guidance letter early this month and while it explained some of Apple’s problems and squarely put the blame on China and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it took about 1,400 words.
I found a response that Cook could have and should have used in place of his more complex guidance letter. This one came from John Gruber:
We all know the Chinese market is fucked up — half because China is China and half because of you-know-who’s dumbass trade war. This quarter that fucked-upped-ness hit iPhone harder than we expected. But China is the whole problem — everything else is noise. Customers around the world love the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, and iPhones account for 90 percent of the profits in the entire handset industry. We expect that to grow as our competitors struggle to differentiate themselves from each other.
Jobs was much better at highlighting Apple’s differences from competitors and related issues than Cook. Fewer words with a distinctly clear meaning vs. more words and a diluted meaning.
Cook means well and his success at guiding Apple after Jobs died in 2011 should not be overlooked. APPL is far more valuable than it was under Jobs reign. Yet, Apple’s message of differentiation is cloudy under Cook and it was crystal clear under Jobs.