Reuters is today running a profile on Apple CEO Tim Cook. There’s of course the inevitable angle in there: stock down, no major new products launched, questions asked about whether Cook has what it takes. But what emerges is a picture of a man who knows he isn’t Steve Jobs and isn’t trying to be.
In the day to day at Apple, Cook has established a methodical, no-nonsense style, one that’s as different as could be from that of his predecessor. Jobs’ bi-monthly iPhone software meeting, in which he would go through every planned features of the company’s flagship product, is gone. “That’s not Tim’s style at all,” said one person familiar with those meetings. “He delegates.”
Yet who also doesn’t shy away from making big decisions in tough circumstances.
[The Apple Maps fiasco] prompted him to fast-track his thinking on the future direction of the critical phone and tablet software known as iOS, a person close to Apple recounted.
“The vision that Tim had to involve Jony and to essentially connect two very, very important Apple initiatives or areas of focus – that was a big decision on Tim’s part and he made it independently and very, very resolutely,” said Bob Iger, CEO of Walt Disney Co. and an Apple director …
Insiders also said that Cook’s quiet demeanour shouldn’t be mistaken for lack of steel.
In meetings, Cook is so calm as to be nearly unreadable, sitting silently with hands clasped in front of himself. Any change in the constant rocking of his chair is one sign subordinates look for: when he simply listens, they’re heartened if there is no change in the pace of his rocking.
“He could skewer you with a sentence,” the person said. “He would say something along the lines of ‘I don’t think that’s good enough’ and that would be the end of it and you would just want to crawl into a hole and die.”
Recruitment consultants who work with Apple gave mixed reports, one – a former Apple employee herself – saying that the people she knew liked Tim and were staying put, while another said they were “being inundated by LinkedIn messages and emails both by people who I never imagined would leave Apple.”
Bob Iger appears in no doubt about Cook’s leadership of the company.
[Cook took on] a very, very difficult role given the person that he’s succeeded and the company he’s running.
I think he’s done so with a deft hand, a strong sense of himself. With that comes a real self-honesty that he is who he is, and not what the world expects him to be, or what Steve was. And I like that.
It’s seemingly a view shared by Carl Icahn. As to whether other investors and analysts share his confidence, the fortunes of the iPhone 5S and 5C are clearly going to play a critical role, and we’ll get a view on that very soon.