No. Cook resides over a company that has grown like no other technology giant, created profits like no other, and generated shareholder value like no other. Wanna argue with that? Yet, for all the recent APPL fails, Cook has a bigger problem.
That Vision Thing
Nearly everyone who writes about Apple, and many critics who do so and make money at it, as well as critics who do not, has written about how Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs. Apple is a much richer company than it was under jobs, so that consideration should have some legs.
What is missing from Cook’s Apple that Jobs’ Apple had? That vision thing. Jobs was better at figuring out what could be the next insanely great thing. Cook might be a mastermind supply and operations genius, but his legacy at Apple may well be defined– not for the massive revenue and profits growth, not for the massive increase in shareholder value via APPL– by how much value Apple has lost in the stock market.
Look at it this way. Jobs’ products, designed and built and marketed with far fewer resources than Cook’s Apple, disrupted many markets in just over 10 years. iMac, Apple Stores, iPod and iTunes, iTunes Music Store, iPhone and iPad, App Stores. All of those products were industry game changers.
What hath Cook wrought by comparison?
More specifically, iPhone accessories. Look at it this way. Cook’s Apple may have improved every Apple product that Jobs launched from 1998 to his last, the iPad, a year before his death, but where are the market disruptions?
Cook’s big problem is that vision thing. Unquestionably, Jobs had it. Arguably, Cook does not.
Cook’s Apple has launched Beats headphones, Apple Pay, Apple Watch, Apple Music, and AirPods. Those products can be used on Mac and iPad, but based on which Apple customers use them, and the total number of customers, they are iPhone accessories. Each of Cook’s accessories may have disrupted a few markets (Apple is the largest watch maker on earth; easily the largest and most profitable smartwatch maker) but that does not change the equation.
Cook has yet to envision a market disruption on the order of the Lisa or Mac, iPod and iTunes Music Store, the App Stores, iPhone and iPad. Instead, Cook resides over the largest shareholder stock buyback in Wall Street history, the largest stock price drop in Wall Street history, and a bunch of iPhone accessories.
Cook needs that vision thing. Jobs had it. Cook does not.
It is likely that if Cook had Jobs’ vision he would not have given away many tens of billions in stock buybacks or dividends– money Apple could use to expand business beyond accessories– and would have ignored or castigated critics and their Apple is doomed memes, and would have taken more risks to move Apple into new and prosperous markets.
Jobs took risks and bet on Apple’s future. His actions set the stage for a prosperous Apple that Cook inherited.
Tim Cook needs that vision thing to guide Apple into the future.