Every company of any significance has a culture; for better or worse, a company’s culture goes through changes as its leadership changes. Steve Jobs co-founded Apple, returned to Apple and changed the culture.
CEO Tim Cook took over the day to day operations from Jobs a few years before his death in 2011. After looking back over the past decade, examining the changes we know about that are an ongoing process at Apple, I conclude that Cook’s Apple is better today than Jobs’ Apple back in the day.
Yes, that comes from a seemingly inveterate Apple critic who also happens to own most of the company’s hardware gear and uses most of the company’s services. I won’t let Apple get roasted when it’s not deserved but I don’t mind poking a stick at Cupertino’s executives when the company fails to deliver the obvious.
Let me look at numbers first.
Had you bought Apple stock when Jobs returned in 1997, and continued to buy until Tim Cook took over in 2011, shortly before Jobs’ death, you would have fared better than if you bought AAPL when Jobs passed away.
But that’s not the whole story, and not typical of how stock is bought and sold. Cook’s Apple has made big money for many investors, including Warren Buffett who still owns a solid chunk of AAPL. Cook uses Apple’s riches to buy back company stock (I do not approve) and to hand out free money as dividends to investors (I do not approve).
Yet, Apple is more profitable under Cook’s reign than under Steve Jobs.
Cook is not as adventurous or as willing to bet the farm as Jobs, but Apple has hundreds of millions more customers, more retail stores, and the whole operation is much more complex today than it was a decade ago. Apple still makes money hand over fist and little by little, almost begrudgingly, Apple under Cook has solidified and expanded the product line, even without a truly industry leading product to match iPhone.
Apple’s wearables– think AirPods, Watch, Beats headphones, etc.– are a huge business already, and Services is the company’s fastest growing revenue source. Even better, Apple seems to have recognized the need to add to the customer base of more than a billion, and that explains why Amazon, Best Buy, and other retailers seem to have Apple hardware on a continues sale.
Apple swung and missed on the trash can Mac Pro cylinder but bounced back with an even better– and more expensive– Mac Pro which may be the best a Mac can be.
Apple’s business in 2019 is absolutely huge– relative to Job’s Apple less than a decade ago– and Cook seems to be working magic across the board– iPhone, iPad, Mac, Watch, Wearables, and now content with hefty gross margins. The company is remarkably profitable and has a customer base any competitor would love to have.
I think Steve Jobs would have risen from the dead to be able to announce the new Mac Pro, but as much as Cook’s Apple seems better than Job’s Apple in almost every mark, I still miss the ‘one more thing‘ and Jobs’ accurate vision of the future.
Jobs was the king of market disruptions, while Cook remains the king of accessories and add-ons.