No piece assessing Cook’s performance would be complete without the mandatory comparison to Steve Jobs, and an asset management company with AAPL shares provides the standard claim that Apple is no longer the company it once was.
“Tim Cook is one of the nicest and most charitable CEOs out there,” said Michael Obuchowski, chief investment officer of Apple shareholder Merlin Asset Management. “By now we’ve all fully realized that despite all his faults, Steve Jobs was a creative genius and Apple’s alleged deep bench doesn’t come even close to replacing his ideas and obsession with design.”
CNET credits Cook with the larger iPhones – which revitalised demand before the more recent slump – and the contract with China Mobile that saw the country become one of the company’s largest markets. It also recognizes the growth of services business under Cook’s leadership.
Cook has pushed Apple into new services, including Apple Pay for mobile payments and the Apple Music streaming service. Apple now makes more money from services like the App Store than it does from its Mac computer line, and it expects its services business to be the size of a Fortune 100 company next year.
The piece argues that Cook is also a ‘nicer’ CEO than Jobs, pointing to its charitable giving, support of social causes, environmental record and stand against the FBI in support of customer privacy.
The two biggest criticisms made in the piece seem odd, to say the least. CNET bemoans the lack of a ‘budget’ iPhone – a strange criticism for a company that positions itself at the premium end of the market, and which appears to have very successfully introduced the iPhone SE to attract both fans of smaller phones and those on tighter budgets.
It also points to an IDC estimate that Apple Watch sales are down 55% from a year ago – when it’s hardly surprising that a new product would see highest demand at launch and then a gradual fall prior to a new model.
It describes the $3B paid to acquire Beats as a ‘questionable bet.’ While I certainly raised my eyebrows at the time, the success of Apple Music and the underlying value of the headphone brand seems to have justified the amount paid. Criticism of Apple Maps and clunky Apple Music software interfaces are more reasonable.
Strangest of all, though, is the claim that ‘the design of the iPhone hasn’t changed much since the company introduced the device in 2007.’ While there may (or may not) be justified concern about the expected similarity of the iPhone 7 design to the iPhone 6/6s, comparison to the first-gen iPhone seems bizarre.