Tim Cook: You need to dissolve the church of Apple

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

They'll probably still queue round the block for the iPhone 78. Not because it'll make coffee and change your tyres for you, but simply because it looks nice, and works really well. There's really no shame there – is Apple really that afraid of just being more like everybody else?

Further reading

Quality and style – as the market is flooded with increasingly cheap, hideous and samey Android devices – still counts for an awful lot on its own. Like Cook said last week: "The only thing we'll never do is make a crappy product." I believe that much (well, except for Maps, but therein lies my point – don't force genius).

But it's hat two that's causing all the problems. Hat two, actually, isn't even a hat. It's more like a cheap, rubber imitation Steve Jobs mask, the tootling Apple propaganda horn rammed between its grimacing lips. And it's through this disguise Cook embarrasses himself with lines like "Spec is the enemy of experience" (it's not – specs tell you how well something will actually work once you look inside the sexy, shiny white housing it lives in) and declares the uniquely soulless corporate atmosphere inside an Apple Store as, apparently, invigorating him "like Prozac".

Cook just needs some confidence in himself. I wouldn't want to wake up every morning and have to be Tim Cook – that's a terrifying prospect. I wouldn't know where to start. But Cook, whether he likes it or not, is Tim Cook. Not Steve Jobs, and not an inventor of gobsmacking gadgets.

It's a bit like the Wizard of Oz – Cook can emerge from behind his giant hologram of Jobs. He may promise you a new heart and only deliver a little ticking clock, but you know it'll keep ticking for a good while.

And the sooner he remembers that Jobs chose him as a successor, and works out exactly why that is, the sooner he can begin reshaping Apple into less of a hollowed-out relic of its former self and more a 2013 company that can pummel Android and, especially, Windows 8. There is no shame in being honest, being upfront and telling it like it is. That's actually exactly what Jobs did; it's just his truth was a hell of a lot different to that of a mere mortal like Cook.

Time – not to mention share prices – isn't waiting for anyone. If Apple is finding itself lowered to playing catch-up to Google devices and – worse – Kickstarter startups, it's time to have a serious rethink. And simple customer good will – especially when based only on past glories – just won't cut it anymore. You can't hypnotise without a hypnotist. And sadly, the hypnotist is dead.

Even the Pope had the good sense to step down last week. Like him, Cook seems to be having increasing problems being Jobs' voice on earth.

But the Catholic Church has nothing to run on but those fumes of religious fervour. In comparison, Apple has a solid reputation of excellent hardware. That preceded Jobs' elevation to legend, and – if Apple gets real – can easily outlast it, too.

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