The New York Times today published an extensive profile of Tim Cook, written by Matt Richtel and Brian X. Chen. Let’s talk about it, and let’s start with this:
Mr. Cook, who is 53, took over leadership of Apple nearly three years ago, after the death of Steve Jobs, the company’s revered founder. Like Walt Disney and Henry Ford, Mr. Jobs was intertwined with his company. Mr. Jobs was Apple and Apple was Jobs.
A bold statement. Given his entwinement, is Apple without Jobs no longer Apple? I’m not delusional — Jobs was obviously a huge figure at Apple. But, as Gruber says:
Jobs was a great CEO for leading Apple to become big. But Cook is a great CEO for leading Apple now that it is big, to allow the company to take advantage of its size and success.
Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs, but he doesn’t have to be. Jony Ive, later in the profile:
“Steve established a set of values and he established preoccupations and tones that are completely enduring,” Mr. Ive said. Chief among them is a reliance on small creative teams whose membership remains intact to this day. The philosophy that materials and products are intertwined also continues under Mr. Cook.
I suppose it’s inevitable that the profile would compare Jobs and Cook. But if you consider that as the benchmark for the profile’s imagination, you know what’s coming:
Still, some product iterations have brought mixed results. Last year, Apple for the first time introduced two new iPhones instead of just one: the high-end iPhone 5S, which sold like gangbusters, and the lower-cost, plastic-covered iPhone 5C, which disappointed.
Disappointed who? Wall Street? Yo mamma? Apple doesn’t break down their sales by model, but the available data suggests that the 5C is anything but a “flop”.
There’s more, and it’s all in the same vein. If you’ve read one profile comparing Tim Cook’s Apple to Steve Jobs’, you’ve read them all. But I’d like to point out one more thing: poor Nate Mendel. For several hours after the profile was published, a photo of Cook, Ive, Dave Grohl, and Mendel had a most unfortunate caption. It’s been fixed now, correctly identifying him as another member of the Foo Fighters, but you can’t help but feel bad for him.
Anyway, Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs, and fire is hot.