Like all heads of rapidly growing technology titans, both of Apple’s 21st century CEOs have their strengths and weaknesses; Jobs ever the visionary, Cook the methodical engineer. Jobs was known to fire people on the spot when things went wrong, while Cook takes a more ‘long game’ approach. Here are a few examples of Cook’s persistence.
Of Maps, Siri, And Stock
Through the years I’ve read every book ever published about Steve Jobs and Apple. It’s hard to believe that Jobs would have initiated a huge stock buyback program or issued a dividend. Cook did that and didn’t blink an eye.
On the other hand, when a product failed at launch (MobileMe, I’m looking at you) Jobs was known to put an end to employment of those involved.
Remember Apple Maps? Remember Siri?
Maps was easily Apple’s most scorned product of the new era, while Siri became a laughing stock as an audio library of inappropriate responses.
Who’s laughing now? While Jobs loved the sizzle in a presentation, Cook seems intent on making great ideas work better, even if it takes time and patience and money to get it right, and he’s not hesitant to remove impediments to progress (Scott Forstall, I’m looking at you).
Not many people complain about Apple Maps these days. It works and works well even including better 3D flyovers, detailed to the point where London’s Big Ben clock tower shows the real time, and the London Eye (giant Ferris Wheel) rotates.
Apple Maps now is the default maps app for iPhone and iPad, so Google had to improve its own iOS maps app to compete. Cook made both products better.
What about Siri? Interactive voice technology has a long way to go before it becomes Star Trek’s Computer (voiced by Gene Roddenberry’s wife, Majel Barrett), but Siri has much improved responses, and soon, an improved voice. Siri competes well with Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana, as well as Google Now (what’s with such an impersonal name?).
Where Steve Jobs lacked patience and perseverance, Cook seems to counter with patience and persistence, and the track record is beginning to mount up as Apple grows more rapidly as a $200-billion company than it did when Jobs took over in 1997.
Apple is as much tortoise as hare these days, and that’s thanks to Tim Cook’s methodology as a steady, persistent leader of a wealthy company that still runs much like a startup (except for all those quarterly profits).