Tim Cook Is No Steve Jobs and He Doesn't Need to Be: 10 Reasons Why

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2012-12-06

Tim Cook Is No Steve Jobs and He Doesn't Need to Be: 10 Reasons Why

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been at the helm at his company for over a year now, and so far, the reactions have been a bit mixed. Some have said that the Apple executive has done a fine job leading the company, as income and revenue have risen along with total product sales.

Others say that Cook’s work could be better and that lately Apple’s product updates have been a bit boring. Plus, with the Maps fiasco that hit iOS 6, Cook has made mistakes that some say, his predecessor Steve Jobs wouldn’t have.

But perhaps those folks are being too tough on Tim Cook. Granted, his first year hasn’t been perfect, but was any single 12-month period in Jobs’ career perfect, either? There were many stumbles in Jobs’ career, which was remarkable for its comebacks from reverses that would have crushed other people.

But why do so many observers insist on comparing Cook to Jobs? Yes, the Apple co-founder was a visionary that turned the company into what it is today, but his way wasn’t the only avenue for future success. In fact, Tim Cook doesn’t need to be like Steve Jobs at all to be successful.

Here are the reasons why Tim Cook doesn’t need to be Steve Jobs to effectively run Apple:

1. Steve Jobs didn’t expect the next CEO to be his clone

In a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Tim Cook revealed that during a discussion with Steve Jobs last year prior to his death, the Apple co-founder made it clear that he didn’t want Apple’s new CEO to try to guess what Jobs would do in a given situation. Instead, he wanted Cook to “do what’s right.” If Steve Jobs didn’t want Cook to be like him, why would anyone else?

2. Sales are up

At the end of the day, CEOs are judged based on the financial success or failure of their companies. Over the past year that Cook has been leading Apple, revenue and profits are up. Unless that situation dramatically changes, then it’s hard to see how Jobs himself could do any better.

3. There’s no lack of quality

When Steve Jobs stepped down at Apple, there was a general concern that the quality of the company’s products would decline. However, since he has taken over, Cook hasn’t let quality slip one bit. In fact, improvements he made to the supply chain might have made things better. There’s no quality-control issue at Apple under Cook.

4. Jobs built a culture of inventiveness

Although Tim Cook might not be as innovative as Steve Jobs or have the foresight that his predecessor did, that doesn’t really matter. During his tenure as Apple’s CEO, Jobs hired employees that had the same love for inventiveness and innovative design as he did. Now, Cook is benefiting from that. And there’s nothing wrong with it.

Tim Cook Is No Steve Jobs and Doesn't Need to Be: 10 Reasons Why

5. Shareholders don’t expect it

There isn’t a single Apple shareholder that looked at Tim Cook and expected him to make same decisions as Steve Jobs. When Apple’s Board elected Cook CEO on Jobs’ recommendation, shareholders universally understood that they were getting a different man with a different philosophy on how to run the company. If that’s OK with shareholders, it should be just fine with everyone else.

6. His employees respect him

In a recent study of the world’s top CEOs, jobs site Glassdoor found that Tim Cook scored a higher rating than Steve Jobs among employees. If that doesn’t say everything that one needs to know about the man, nothing will. Apple employees respect and believe in Tim Cook. He has achieved that on his own merits and achievements that need no comparison to anything Jobs has done.

7. Being Tim Cook is a good thing

Being Tim Cook isn’t a bad thing. For years, Cook worked as Apple’s supply chain guru, ensuring that the right manufacturers were developing its products at a cost that his boss, Steve Jobs, could live with. Now more than ever, that supply chain knowledge is coming in handy. Because of Cook’s work, Apple is able to get products to store shelves more quickly than competitors and at a price that’s substantially less. Sometimes, an eye on the backend of business is a good thing.

8. A nicer Apple isn’t bad

Under Steve Jobs, Apple had a chip on its shoulder. The company believed that it was the very best in the marketplace and there wasn’t anyone who could tell it otherwise. Plus, Jobs really didn’t like to apologize for any perceived shortcomings, making the company seem cut-off from the average person. Under Cook, however, Apple is somewhat more humble and will more occasionally admit that it’s wrong. Just as importantly, Cook was willing to address Foxconn’s labor issues, only improving Apple’s standing among consumers. Cook brings a nicer, softer side that has been lacking for too long at Apple.

9. Apple doesn’t need a Jobsian leader right now

Does Apple really need a Jobsian leader right now? For years, Jobs’ innovative eye and keen sense of what customers really needed was necessary. But according to reports, Jobs left a product roadmap extending years down the road before he died. Given that, Apple doesn’t need someone to throw out that roadmap and move the company along some darker path. The company needs someone who can implement that product strategy and make key decisions to ensure it works. Tim Cook is that person.

10. Do customers really care?

When Steve Jobs died, some analysts believed that it would negatively affect Apple sales. They argued that some customers were buying Apple products because of Jobs’ charisma. Given the increased sales, it appears customers don’t really care if each and every product doesn’t have the Jobs touch.

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