In a profile of Apple SVP Jeff Williams, now widely expected to be next-in-line for the CEO job whenever Tim Cook decides to leave the company, Bloomberg cites employee sources that paint a picture of Williams as a Cook-doppelganger.
Williams now oversees all of Apple’s hardware development and design. The report says a weekly review meeting is formally called ‘New Product Review’, but some employees refer to it as the ‘Jeff Review’, as it is he who they need to impress.
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Citing anonymous sources from the Apple design team, Bloomberg says employees trust Williams to understand their value and not to overrule them.
Williams manages Apple Watch, Apple’s entire supply chain, fitness and health division, sourcing materials, AppleCare, and more.
In general, the profile paints the picture as Williams mimicking Cook in many ways, with slightly more product interest.
“Jeff is 95% operations and 5% product,” says someone who knows him. “Apple has become an operations company.”
“He’s the closest thing at the company to Tim Cook, and you’ll get more of that,” a former senior Apple executive says of Williams. “If you think Cook is doing a good job, then it’s a good choice.”
The Bloomberg report highlights one particularly pivotal moment of Williams’ influence on the Apple Watch. In the months leading up to the Watch’s release, employees with test units reportedly started getting allergic reactions to the nickel used in the Watch chassis. Williams chose to scrap the stock of watches Apple had already made and sourced an alternative material. There was also an issue with Taptic Engine longevity. Some number of produced watch models were also dumped for this reason, and given to employees instead.
These decisions ultimately improved product quality for early Watch buyers, but also contributed to the months-long delays customers faced in finding many Apple Watch models when it was released in April 2015.