Tim Cook's 10 years at the head of Apple in 5 wins and 5 defeats

Tim Cook's 10 years at the head of Apple in 5 wins and 5 defeats

The manager has been able to grow the company and conquer new market shares, but he does not have Jobs' vision and the bet on privacy has not spared him criticism

Apple CEO Tim Cook (photo Graeme Jennings-Pool / Getty Images) Putting on Steve Jobs shoes isn't the simplest job in the world, yet Tim Cook, the current CEO of Apple chosen by the company's cofounder himself, seems to do it lightly and easily. After ten years at the helm of the company, which he took over on August 24, 2011, Apple has never been in better shape. There are, however, also many problems, from issues related to privacy (which it has been pursuing for years) to limits on competition to the usual, small quarrels about products (which are no longer "innovative" as they once were, according to critics) but overall it is harder to find five defeats than five goals achieved by Tim Cook.

Let's see, then, what is the report card of the manager who has been able to transform himself from a man of order into a great boss, who pushes Apple's ocean liner increasingly offshore. The engineer graduated from a university in the southern United States, a solitary workaholic passionate about fitness (every morning at five he is in the gym working out while answering the first emails) and extremely private, he knew how to surprise everyone, even and especially when he came out, declaring to be gay, "out of responsibility, because I am a public figure and by saying it I think I give courage to many girls and boys who feel different".

The 5 successes

Tim Cook (Photo: Apple)

A mountain of money

When a company reaches two trillion dollars in market capitalization, a value astronomical from all points of view, there is little to do: its CEO is making the shareholders happy. Which is his job. And there is no denying: Tim Cook is doing it as Steve Jobs never did.

Apple in fact passed the 500 billion dollar mark under Cook's leadership and has not since never stopped growing. The man of order, the methodical engineer from the south of the USA (he was born in Mobile, Alabama, on November 1st, 1960) has proven to have what it takes and to be much more than an "accountant".

The green turning point

Could a company that produces hundreds of millions of extremely expensive and designer electronic devices on a planetary scale also be environmentally and socially responsible? Apple has bet yes and has worked with Steve Jobs but above all with Tim Cook to rebuild the entire supply chain, production, marketing and recycling of products in such a way as to become a model for other companies and even for those in other sectors. .

All that glitters is not gold: however the company is a giant producer of consumer electronics, its business is not planting trees or growing flowers, but it has also decided to plant trees and grow flowers, with significant environmental results even if not always understood (such as the lack of a charger with the new iPhones and iPads).

The protection of privacy

The second great ethical battle of Tim Cook, after the environment, it is the one for privacy. And we put it between the right and wrong things of Apple's CEO at the same time because it's a two-sided medal. On the bright side, the company has actually built a customer-centric system that is not considered a product to be exploited and monetized.

Its data is safer than on competing platforms, Apple's software they honestly say when someone with a third party app tries to access it, the ads and trackers are blocked. All this to the detriment even of competitiveness, because indiscriminately "spying" on the user allows them to learn and better predict their wishes. It's a remarkable choice, also inspired by Cook's personal story.

Apple Watch, AirPods, fitness and wellness

Even though Apple's big bestseller, the iPhone, has debuted in 2007, four years before Cook became Apple's CEO on a permanent basis, it's not really true that no great products were born with him. The Apple Watch has 40% of sales in the smartwatch market and Apple's watch turnover is higher than the entire Swiss sector.

Bluetooth headphones alone are worth a large company and Apple dominates the base of the fitness and wellness market. Cook's strategy, a person very attentive to physical activity, has proved more than successful.

Macs and Apple Silicon

Tim Cook's Apple initially seemed to have dropped the computers that made the company world famous in 1984, but it didn't. After the design debacles (see Cook's mistakes) in reality what emerges is a constant work of improvement and integration of hardware and operating system as Apple had never done in all its history.

Mac , generation after generation, are visibly improving and the move to move the platform from Intel to in-house Apple Silicon was masterful and executed perfectly. The synergies that are emerging are just the appetizer of what Cook has in mind.

The 5 defeats

Tim Cook and Donald Trump, then in office as President of the United States, at the House Bianca on June 19, 2017.

Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs

Even if it is not a real mistake, it cannot be emphasized. Cook lacks the charisma, the personality, perhaps the vision and certainly the histrionic genius of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple born on February 24, 1955 and died on October 5, 2011. It was Jobs who wanted Cook to lead Apple for his skills as a finisher and pushback median, and Cook surprised everyone because he is getting where Jobs would never have succeeded.

But he still lacks that intangible something, that "good taste" that even the founder of Microsoft , friend-foe Bill Gates envied Jobs. Cook has it all, and in some cases even more, but he certainly isn't Steve Jobs. The positive note is that the shareholders have come to terms with it. Indeed, two trillion reasons.

Too much design (keyboards and touch bars)

It was felt that the good taste of Steve Jobs, who was also the number one user of all, was lacking the products made in Cupertino, when the design sector was left free. Too free. More and more "flat" computers with keyboards that are beautiful to look at but very uncomfortable to use, innovations that no one felt the need (and of which no one has found the usefulness) such as the MacBook Touch Bar, which will probably now be removed. And in general, a series of twists designed more to satisfy the pencil of Apple's designers more than its customers.

The tendency towards excess of the designers of Cupertino (which after the historical creator of Apple products, Jony Ive, have become increasingly difficult to control) is perhaps returning, but we have not yet returned to a minimalist balance between form and function. Ah, even reducing the connection ports of all products exponentially, without ever deciding between Lightning connector and Usb-C is a strategic mistake that Jobs would not have made.

The other side of privacy

We said that privacy is both a win and a defeat for Apple. All information protection policy, according to some, is less genuine than it appears. A marketing tool to differentiate yourself from the competition from Google and trip the various Facebook and Amazon (which try to enter the platforms of others to retain customers) and acquire more personalities. Tim Cook put his face in it and something more, but for two trillion dollars of market capitalization who wouldn't have?

The latest, controversial announcement that has raised criticism and risk analysis from part of industry experts and associations for the protection of privacy was to want to analyze the photos sent to iCloud to find child pornography or to check, with parental permission, the type of images sent with the messages.

The case of work

Whether in China, where working conditions are often denounced in the factories of subcontractors, or in Cupertino, where there are no trade unions and the company is careful not to allow those work to get organized, the subject of work is a subject that is kept very under track but in reality it is particularly hot.

Cook on the one hand has done a lot to put the most riotous suppliers in Asia back in line, but man does not he thinks twice about pushing it right or Apple's policies at the extreme, and he's not known to be an easy-going person.

The wrong employees

Cook doesn't have a knack for hiring top-notch managers. While Steve Jobs "read" people like open books and motivated them a lot (Cook included), Apple's current number one has difficulty finding the right pawns to put at the top of Apple, so much so that after some rather sensational failures (such as former Apple Store manager John Browett, and later Angela Ahrendts, who lasted just over two years) is turning to figures that have grown entirely, such as Deirdre O'Brien, now head of retail and employees.

The problem is that Apple's long-time executives handpicked by Steve Jobs are retiring one after another and Cook himself does not appear, at least from the outside, that he is raising one or more of his successors. . Instead, a fundamental practice for a company of that size.

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