Tim Cook's Apple: Nothing Will Change or Ever Be the Same
In resigning as Apple CEO, Steve Jobs handed the baton to Tim Cook, the company's erstwhile COO. Will Apple undergo a dramatic change in direction under Cook's watch? It's highly unlikely. The executive already has experience in running Apple's day-to-day business, and he's surrounded by a culture and management team created by Jobs himself. But the fact remains that Apple will be different without Jobs in command.
08/26/11 5:00 AM PT
In his first memo to employees as Apple's official CEO Thursday, new chief executive Tim Cook told them he wants them to be confident that Apple is not going to change now that the company's cofounder Steve Jobs has stepped out of the driver's seat.
That's a promise that some Apple watchers believe Cook will keep in the coming months.
The company isn't going to look much different under Cook than it did under Jobs, according to Gartner Analyst Michael Gartenberg.
"Tim's not an outsider," he told MacNewsWorld. "He's not an unknown quantity. He is a tested and tried CEO of this company."
When Steve Jobs has had to leave the company for medical reasons in the past, Cook has stepped up to the plate and has done a good job, Gartenberg noted. "He's done really, really well," he said. "In 2009, Apple's stock was up 67 percent under his tenure. I don't think that's going to change."
Although Cook's specialty, logistics, isn't as sexy as the new products Jobs is known for, he has already put his stamp on the company.
Cook has demonstrated a deep understanding of manufacturing and supply chain management, Jeffries Analyst Peter Misek wrote in an investment note released Thursday, noting Cook's ability to double- and triple-source component suppliers even in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan and sent many high-tech manufacturers reeling. Cook's leadership during the introduction of the iPad was also noteworthy, according to Misek.
That view was shared by Scott Testa, a business consultant and Apple watcher in Philadelphia.
"One thing Tim Cook is very good at is being able to see the demand for these products on the horizon and going to these manufacturers and negotiating great upfront deals and keeping competitors away from those supplies," he told MacNewsWorld.
As all CEOs do, Cook will leave his mark on Apple, Gartenberg noted. "That doesn't mean that the core vision and the core values are going to change," he added.
This isn't the first time Jobs has annointed a new CEO. In 1983, he wooed John Scully from Pepsi. Scully held the post until 1993. His tenure at Apple was tempestuous and marked by one of the company's biggest failures: the Lisa personal computer.
Things have changed a lot since Scully's day, and Cook is walking into a much better situation from an organizational point of view.
"Jobs' legacy isn't as much about the products he's brought to market, but the management team that he's put in place, the leadership team he's put into place," Gartenberg asserted.
"Steve Jobs has surrounded himself with some very, very good people, not just Tim Cook, but the rest of the bench," Testa added.
"There's so much more to Apple than one individual," Gartenberg said. "I think that's something that people are just forgetting."
Whatever Cook's mark on Apple will be, it'll probably be at least two years before it starts to manifest itself. That's because that's about how far Jobs' plans for the company reach into the future. In fact, Jobs' overall vision of the Apple ecosystem extends beyond five years, according to Misek.
As Cook tries to keep Apple on course in the coming years, he may face emboldened competition, no longer cowed by the gravitas of Jobs. However, "Any competitor that thinks that they're going to be able exploit Jobs' stepping down is making a serious mistake," Gartenberg warned.
"Remember," he added, "Jobs is not leaving Apple. We're still going to see his influence internally at Apple and externally in the products that they create for many years to come."