Tim Cook: You need to dissolve the church of Apple

By Peter Gothard
19 Feb 2013 View Comments
Apple chief executive Tim Cook

A lot of Jobs' celebrated myth is, of course, rumours and legends, but we do know he was a firebrand, a risktaker and a bizarrely hypnotic individual. You only had to see the man on stage to believe stories of angry project leaders storming into his office and rubbishing his ideas, only to emerge 20 minutes later in full agreement with anything the uncanny CEO had to say.

Further reading

It was Steve Jobs who made the world decide they wanted Apple products, even though they'd never asked for them (that's another Jobism, actually). Yes, he was helped along the way by a stable of crack designers, engineers and aesthetic whizkids. But it's hard to deny that it was Jobs, bounding around on conference stages that sold those products single-handedly.

I'll hold back from the blasphemy, but if Apple was a religion, Jobs could, without irony, be described as its god.

Cook, on the other hand, is a human being running a large technology company. He's also, apparently, a human being trying to run a technology company as harmoniously as possible. He decided late last year to "lance the boil of internal politics", as one commentator put it.

But Jobs' Apple, like his business life generally, seemed to pivot on confrontation and anger. A man who famously asked "Why join the navy when you can be a pirate?" or stated publicly that Microsoft's products "suck! There's no sex in them anymore!" was hardly a chap with good will to all men bursting from his heart.

My point is that Cook can't hope to run Apple a bit like Tim Cook would, but mostly like Jobs should. He can't walk around blathering nonsense he thinks Jobs would have said. I just can't help but feel that he's trying to wear two hats. Hat one sees him quietly making executive changes within his company to more accurately reflect his idosyncratic wishes and management style.

While wearing hat one, he's probably given up the ghost (no pun intended) on the Apple myth; he knows Apple can't be the same beast without Jobs. But at the same time, he knows he has savvy enough organisational skills to steer an even keel.

Since we're heading back into nautical analogy, such conduct of Cook's could probably be called "joining the navy". But why not? If Cook gradually moves Apple away from promising the next big thing every five minutes only to deliver endlessly iterative phones and bamboozling map software, and instead simply maintains its reputation for solid, stylish tech that works well, nobody will hate him for it.

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