Apple CEO Tim Cook's Track Record: 10 Things That Have Defined Him
Let Apple Be Apple
One of the first things Cook made clear when he became Apple's CEO was his desire not to change how the company operates. To Cook, Apple should stay Apple, and he has allowed the company to operate in that capacity since he took over.
Don't Try to Be Steve Jobs
At the same time, Cook hasn't tried to be Steve Jobs. Whether folks like him or dislike him, there's no denying that Steve Jobs was a special individual that achieved great things in the technology space. Tim Cook can't expect to be as iconic as Jobs, so trying to be like him is little more than a mistake.
Allow Others to Share the Spotlight
One of the things that Steve Jobs didn't do very much was share the spotlight. Everyone knew that there was a cast of people that made Apple's products special, but Jobs preferred to be the main spokesperson for the company. With Cook, it's a much different story. The Apple chief executive goes out of his way to highlight his junior executives, giving them a grander stage to show the world their contributions to the company.
Revolutionary Upgrades Aren't Necessary
When Apple launched the iPhone 4S in October, nearly everyone was shocked to find that it wasn't a revolutionary upgrade. When the new iPad launched last month, it was a similar story. By the look of things, Tim Cook is just fine with evolutionary upgrades and doesn't believe the company has to make a full generational jump with every new product upgrade.
Remember Factory Workers
For years, factory workers at Foxconn facilities around the world have been protesting poor working conditions and unfair wages as they assemble Apple products. Finally, Tim Cook addressed the issue earlier this year by bringing in the Fair Labor Association to audit Apple suppliers. The results have so far meant meaningful changes for workers, and that's something Cook should be proud to have accomplished.
The Same Old Secrecy
Steve Jobs created a culture of secrecy at Apple, ensuring that his employees didn't say a word about upcoming products for fear of being fired. It appears that Tim Cook likes to maintain that same level of secrecy. For Apple and its hype machine, that's great news. But for today's consumers hoping to get a hint at Apple's plans, it's frustrating.
A Quieter, Friendlier Apple?
One of the interesting things Tim Cook has brought to Apple is a quieter, friendlier side. Steve Jobs was notorious for his anger and venom when discussing competitors. He once threatened to launch "thermonuclear war" against Android. But Cook is much different. He recently said in an earnings call that he'd like to give up the lawsuits between his company and Android vendors. Is Apple now a quieter, friendlier company?
Putting Cash to Work
When Steve Jobs was Apple chief executive and had tens of billions of dollars of cash piled up in his coffers, he decided to do nothing with it. But Cook is much different. He recently announced plans to buy back company shares and issue dividends. He's also contributing cash to charities. Tim Cook obviously believes it's a good idea to put his company's cash to work.
Apple has made relatively few strategic acquisitions. The company has historically refrained by trying to grow through acquisitions. But with Tim Cook in charge, it appears that might change. Apple recently acquired Israel-based flash memory part-maker Anobit. And according to Cook himself, Apple could be buying up more companies when the time is right. It appears Apple is far more willing to buy up companies under Cook than it was under Jobs.
A Commitment to China
Cook has made it abundantly clear to all who will listen that China is vastly important to his company's future. From iPhone sales to the iPad to even Macs, China could become the largest market for Apple's many divisions. Tim Cook has said in nearly every earnings call that China is a huge market for his company, and he has visited the country. Look for China to be a key ingredient in Cook's strategic plans going forward.