About Tim Cook and Apple's Future...

On Wednesday, August 24, 2011 0 comments

Cook, Jobs & Schiller in 2009 | Source: Getty Images.
Let's talk a bit about Tim Cook and some scenarios around Apple's near-term future.

Tim has been Steve's No. 2 for many years and joined Apple in 1998. He stepped in to temporarily fill Jobs' shoes in 2004 and 2009 as Steve was going through the challenges and complications of pancreatic cancer.

The facts going forward as I see it:

1) Tim is a strong leader - What many people will tell you is that Tim is a dedicated and proactive leader and operational manager. He can and will run Apple like a well-oiled clock. Tim's roots are in fulfillment, operations and logistics and this shines through his professional and laser focus execution.

2) Tim is NOT Steve - Steve was the visionary. A master "producteer". Someone that develops insights, empathy and understands how to translate the vagaries of the marketplace and technologies into an entire product value-stream (end to end execution).

3) What you will hear about Apple's product pipeline - You will hear how Apple will have a pipeline of products "primed" for the next 12-24 months as that is how long it takes to translate concepts into reality. And the near-term is probably pretty solid indeed.

4) What you will NOT hear about Apple's challenges -  Forget about the obvious "Who will conceive of the next iDevice?" and ask yourself "Who will handle the near-term missteps?" Apple makes mistakes. Okay I said it! Who will be "navigating" the OVERALL Vision and Strategy on a "real-time basis" is not clear. Apple's style of innovation is not a "process" and it is born from a fire from a vision of what was seen as impossible but was possible with Apple's vast resources. Apple's strength is putting all the disparate pieces together is a cohesive manner. No one at Apple has demonstrated THAT overarching ability.

  • I believe the Cloud services which are in their infancy will suffer without Steve. Online products change on a dime. You have to zig-and-zag to address consumer and competitive pressures. I believe this is an area that we will see the cracks first.
  • iPhone5 and iPad3 will obviously drive revenue in the next 24 months as these platforms are clearly matured to the point that they will be available on all four major carriers in the US...probably simultaneously. And the rest of the world right behind. (For tablet purchasing advice @ WouldntMindThis)
  • Macintosh computers are hot right now but they will probably fall into the "status quo" for the company.
  • The "hidden in-between" product. An iPad/Macbook hybrid is probably in the cooker. Something super light and simple but with a keyboard. The Macbook Air serves this space but trust me...a device that is simpler than a Mac but with a keyboard is probably out there somewhere in the Cupertino halls. Add some custom user experiences into that form-factor/package and you probably have the uber-communications platform.
Apple will suffer. Nothing has been demonstrated to indicate there is a "greater force" driving product vision beyond Steve's direct engagement. I hate to say it but in the annuals of "visionary leader" lead businesses...most fail after the visionary leaves. Very few companies invest into the process and talent to make the innovation company sustainable. 

I guess time will tell...I hope I am wrong.



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