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One Year as Apple CEO: Tim Cook Beats Steve Jobs

The 51-year-old Alabama native is modest and stays out of the limelight when possible, and likely never dreamed that he would one day head Apple and even surpass his predecessor’s business success. Steve Jobs was the dominant force during the 14 years of his second tenure at Apple, even though he was forced to turn over operational management to production and sales mastermind Cook several times over the years for health reasons.

At the AllThingsD conference, Cook talked about how unimaginable an Apple without Steve Jobs was for him in his only major interview since his appointment as CEO: “Maybe as much as you should see or predict that, I really didn’t,” said Cook about the passing of Steve Jobs, which he described as “absolutely the saddest days of my life.” But sometime at the end of 2011, that sadness was replaced with intense determination to continue the journey started by Jobs.

A phenomenal 2012
Apple’s figures to date are a clear testament to Cook, who in his first year as CEO has even succeeded in surpassing the boom years under Steve Jobs. Under his leadership, the Apple share price has

from just under 384 to 648 dollars, and in the first three quarters of 2012 alone, Apple increased its sales by 50 percent from 80.04 to 120.53 billion dollars and its net profit by over 70 percent from 19.3 to 32.92 billion dollars. Sales have only slowed somewhat in the last quarter as people wait for the expected launch of the iPhone 5.

Apple performed extremely well over the past year,” said Helge Rechberger, analyst at Raiffeisen Bank International in a conversation with futurezone. “Fears that innovation and also marketing would suffer in the absence of the marketing genius Steve Jobs have proven to be entirely unfounded,” said Rechberger, who sees further upside potential for the share. Measured by market capitalization, Apple is currently worth 608 billion dollars, more than Google and Microsoft combined.

Making his mark
Despite Job’s instructions to Cook to “avoid thinking about the past” and “never ask what he would do” but to “just do what’s right,” Tim Cook has not yet made any real mark in his short term as CEO. And little is known about the personal life of the long-time chief operating officer of Apple one year after he took the top spot. The only notable event has been the brief tempest in a teapot stirred up by US journalists regarding his

One can only surmise how the internal processes in the company will change as a result of his leadership. It is whispered that employees in Cupertino now have “more room to breathe,” and that the pressure that existed under Jobs has lessened somewhat. Unlike Jobs, Cook is more accessible for employees, and “often sits down randomly with employees in the cafeteria at lunchtime” according to a Fortune report.

Changes by Cook that have gained media attention include a program to match employee charity donations up to 10,000 dollars per year. The payment of a dividend to Apple shareholders, something blocked by Jobs for years, also bears Cook’s stamp. And unlike Jobs, Cook took a personal interest in the frequently criticized working conditions at the Apple factories in China and made multiple statements to the effect that he wishes to make Apple a model company in this regard.

Little innovation
In terms of products, which are decisive for Apple’s image, Cook has done relatively little in his first year. The only real innovation was new

models with their ultra high definition displays.
and the new iPad that were presented under his leadership were criticized for their lack of innovation, and the company has failed to unveil the expected revolutionary TV device. Regardless of this criticism, Apple increased its iPhone sales from 55.23 to 98.14 million units in annual comparison in the first three quarters of 2012, and increased iPad sales from 21.27 to 44.23 million units.

Critics of the iPhone 4S and the third-generation iPad who claim that these products would not have been launched under Steve Jobs are overlooking product development lead time, and are ignoring some of the less spectacular updates under Jobs like the iPhone 3GS, as well as the fact that the MacBook and iMac portfolio remained virtually unchanged for years. A far as new products are concerned, decisions made by Tim Cook will not have a visible effect for some months, if not years.

Not a showman
The fact that Cook is no fan of the spotlight, unlike Jobs, has changed little in his first year as CEO. This was apparent during the keynote at the Apple Developer Conference, at which the new operating systems Mountain Lion and iOS 6 were presented, along with the new MacBook with the Retina display. Cook was energetic, but only used nine of the 153 minutes on the stage for himself. He left the presentation of the new MacBooks and all other products to senior vice president of marketing Phil Schiller and other Apple officers.

With the modest and rather uncharismatic Cook being something of the opposite of the unpredictably eccentric Steve Jobs, some see it as ironic that he has assumed control of Apple. But it is exactly this difference that could help Cook break out of the confining mold of his long-time boss and mentor. Considering the enormous growth and the associated production and supply chain challenges, it will definitely be of advantage to have one of the most efficient managers in the world at the helm.

At the memorial service for Steve Jobs held at the Apple Campus, Steve Cook surprised the many who consider him to be uncharismatic and dry with his open display of emotion and caring. And Cook’s passion for Apple and its products has been clearly evident at his few public appearances. But only time will tell if Apple can maintain its innovative power and spirit under Cook.

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Martin Jan Stepanek


Technologieverliebt. Wissenschaftsverliebt. Alte-Musik-Sänger im Vienna Vocal Consort. Mag gute Serien. Und Wien.

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Martin Jan Stepanek