Original title: Keeper Cook: Ten years at the helm of Apple never wanted to be the next Jobs
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years. I commemorate you today and every day.”
As always, as the successor, Apple CEO Tim Cook (TimCook) publicizes a document to commemorate Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs every year on October 5th, local time in the United States.
On October 5, 2011, Jobs died of illness, and it has been ten years since. This also means that Cook has also been at the helm of Apple for ten years.
While commemorating Jobs, Cook issued an article quoted Jobs’s words “people with enthusiasm can make the world a better place.” On the same day, Apple’s official website released a two-minute commemorative video of Jobs. In the video is the innovative, rebellious and infectious “Quotations of Joe” during Jobs’s speech and product release.
Jobs’ creative spirit and strong personal charm still inspire and influence countless people to this day.
However, as a successor under the aura of Jobs, Cook has always been the pusher of Apple’s business empire in controversy. He has been at the helm of Apple for ten years and has not been peaceful.
“No imagination”, “lack of innovation”, “boring and lack of enthusiasm” have always accompanied this successor. Compared with the Steve Jobs era, Apple lacking subversive innovation is a bit “fading”. The Apple autumn new product launch conference on September 15 this year was spit out by “fruit fans” as in previous years and triggered a new round of nostalgia for Jobs and revisiting Jobs back then. “Amazing feeling” brought by disruptive innovative products.
But there is no doubt that Cook made Apple a great commercial success. As the industry insiders said: “Jobs is a talented artist, and Cook is a successful businessman”.
This year, Apple sold the 2 billionth iPhone, and as of the close of October 5, Apple’s stock price was $141.11, and its market value was as high as $2.3 trillion. Compared with the stock price at the time of Jobs’ death, it has risen by more than 20 times, making it one of the most valuable technology companies in the world.
When Cook took over as CEO ten years ago, Jobs told him not to think about “what would he do if Jobs” in the choice of company strategy, but “let go and do the right thing.” As a result, Apple gradually opened the Cook era. Along the way, Cook has always faced two different voices of affirmation and doubt, and he can only practice the phrase “let go and do the right thing” according to his own understanding. He once said that he never wanted to be the next Jobs. “The only person I can be is myself. I have been trying to be the best Tim Cook.”
Apple has no innovation in the Cook era?
On August 25, 2011, Jobs resigned as CEO due to physical reasons and was replaced by Cook, who has long served as Apple’s second-in-command. In fact, before that, due to Steve Jobs recuperating due to illness, Cook had already had two experience of temporarily acting as CEO. Jobs is full of confidence in it. He once said to Cook that in the choice of company strategy, don’t think about “what would he do if it were Steve Jobs”, but “let go and do the right thing.”
Genentech chairman Art Levinson also said on behalf of Apple’s board at the time that “the board fully believes that Tim is the right person for our next CEO,” he added. “Tim’s 13 years of service for Apple are marked by outstanding performance. He has shown extraordinary talent and good judgment in everything.”
But the outside world is more skeptical. Because only Jobs is regarded as the soul of Apple products.
In the “Biography of Cook” written by Liende Carney (who reported and studied Apple for more than 20 years), a senior American media person wrote: At first, no one was optimistic about Cook. Although Cook has strong operational management capabilities, in the eyes of many people, he is a boring, boring and unimaginative person. People expect Apple’s CEO to be full of charm and have the demeanor of a helm, but the traits that Apple’s former CEOs have, there is no trace in Cook. To make matters worse, he does not have the imagination of Jobs. So where does Apple’s next crazy product come from? The book also quoted in May 2011, Fujimura predicted in an article entitled “Why Apple Is Doomed to Failure” in the “Huffington Post”: There will be no more Apples after Steve Jobs left. Fujimura wrote: “Jobs’ management and even his vision are replaceable, but his extraordinary taste is unmatched, and this is precisely the key to Apple’s success. Due to the departure of Jobs, Apple, which has lost the support of top products, will It will be worse than ever.”
This questioning voice was strengthened after Cook hosted Apple’s autumn conference for the first time on October 4, 2011. At this conference, fans did not wait for the long-awaited iPhone 5, but only saw the simple upgraded iPhone 4S. . People have also found that Cook lacks the appeal of Jobs on stage, the kind of personal charm that can firmly attract the attention of the audience, control and drive the emotions of the audience.
Since then, the voice of “the lack of innovation in Apple products” has never ceased. After each press conference, Guofen is accustomed to squeezing out the toothpaste-style product improvement that Kuo Fen is accustomed to. The products that many people expected, such as iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad, with epoch-making and innovative significance, never appeared. They believe that Cook has been “fixing up” the original product. Even the updated product functions in recent years, many of them have already been used by domestic Android manufacturers.
Cook himself naturally does not think so, he believes that Apple is still full of innovative spirit and genes. Although he also admitted that not every new model is full of innovation. “Sometimes the steps are larger, sometimes the steps are smaller. But the key is always to make things better, not just to change for the sake of change.” Previously, Cook said in an interview with the media. In 2014, he also stated in the dialogue with Qian Yingyi at Tsinghua University that he has always advocated “willing to do the best, not the earliest”, “We are concerned about creating the best products to enrich and change people’s lives. We It took a lot of time to make sure the product is correct.”
AppleWatch, AirPods, two products led by Cook may imply his expectations of this kind of product.
The former was announced by Apple on September 10, 2014. In the past few years, this product has achieved outstanding results in the market. According to the research of the market data research company StrategyAnalytics,AppleWatchSales in 2019 surpassed the entire Swiss watch industry. The English technology media Gizmochina quoted analysts’ estimates that the Apple Watch may replace the Mac in 2022, ranking fourth in Apple’s best-selling product list. The market performance of Apple AirPods is even more impressive. In 2019, its sales reached nearly 60 million, accounting for 71% of the revenue of the true wireless headset market. Although other brands have accelerated their development in recent years, Apple AirPods still ranks first in market share so far.
Cook has also led Apple to continuously explore its potential in the service business sector. AppStore, AppleArcade, AppleMusic, ApplePodcasts and iCloud have been continuously launched in more and more countries and regions, which has enabled Apple’s service revenue to continue to create historical highs. In fiscal 2020, the service sector, which is Apple’s second largest source of revenue, reached 53.8 billion U.S. dollars in revenue.
Apple also continues to invest and explore AR, VR and other fields, and plans to launch corresponding wearable products in the next few years. Cook believes that whether in the office or at home, the future augmented reality technology will play a more important role in our lives. “Penetrate into your life.” In the field of smart cars, although Apple’s exploration road is full of bumps, it still has not given up.
Reshaping Apple’s supply chain
Compared to making products, Cook’s personal best job is actually in the supply chain and operations.
Apple’s official announcement shows that during his tenure as Apple’s chief operating officer, Cook was responsible for the company’s global sales and operations, including Apple’s supply chain, sales activities, and end-to-end management of services and support in all markets and countries. He also led Apple’s Macintosh division and played a key role in continuing to develop strategic dealer and supplier relationships, ensuring the company’s flexibility to respond to increasingly demanding market demands.
During Cook’s career before entering Apple, he has been cultivating in areas such as supply chain and operations. He also studied industrial engineering related to production control during his undergraduate studies at Auburn University. After graduating from a bachelor’s degree, he joined IBM for 12 years, responsible for the manufacturing and distribution operations of the PC department in North America and Latin America. For the next four years, he served as the chief operating officer of the computer distribution department of Intelligent Electronics, a wholesaler. Before joining Apple, he had just switched to Compaq, a well-known personal computer company at the time, for 6 months, responsible for the company’s material procurement and product inventory management. The accumulation of concentration in this field has made Cooke a recognized “supply chain master” in the industry.
In early 1998, Cook was invited by Jobs to join Apple as a vice president, in charge of Apple’s computer manufacturing business.
Walter Isaacson’s “Jobs Biography” shows that before that, Apple’s operations chief had resigned due to unbearable pressure, and Jobs was not very satisfied with the people interviewed since then, thinking that they were all “in A guy with an outdated concept in production”, he wanted to find someone who could build a just-in-time factory and supply chain. Later, he met Cook who happened to be good at this. “Cook used to do sourcing, which happens to be the background we need. He looks at the problem in the same way as I do.
According to Cook’s later recollection, Jobs told him that Apple was preparing to enter the personal consumer market and the idea of designing some new products (later iMac products), which aroused Cook’s interest, coupled with the way Jobs talked. As well as the sense of harmony between the two people, Cook finally decided to join Apple. “Within 5 minutes, I decided to leave caution and logic behind, join Apple and work for a creative genius. This is the only opportunity in my life.”
After coming to Apple, Cook quickly demonstrated his ability in the supply chain field. According to “Cook’s Biography”, Cook has eliminated Apple’s suppliers and selected only a few to cooperate. Let suppliers move near the Apple factory to improve the efficiency of component delivery and on-time production processes. As long as it can be outsourced, Cook chooses outsourcing. This approach has helped Apple solve one of the biggest problems-inventory. It is understood that the warehouses that store parts and sell computers over the years have caused the company’s inventory costs of millions of dollars. In 1996, a large number of unsold computers almost caused Apple to go bankrupt.
Prior to this, Jobs had shortened Apple’s inventory to one month. In just a few months, Cook shortened the storage period of Apple from 30 days to 6 days. One year later, the inventory period was shortened to an astonishing 2 days. It is reported that Cook applied the JIT model (that is, just-in-time, just-in-time production system) learned during his work at IBM to change the previous model of purchasing materials on a large scale and then organizing production, but based on the amount of downstream orders. To pull production on demand in real time. In addition, Cook also compressed the production cycle of Apple computers from four months to two months. As a result, Apple’s product production and supply chain has been revolutionized, which not only reduces costs and increases profits, but also ensures that every new computer is equipped with the latest components.
Relying on Cook’s outstanding operational performance within the company, his responsibilities gradually expanded, and in 2004, he began to be in charge of both sales and manufacturing. In October 2005, Cook was appointed as the company’s COO. After taking over as CEO, Apple implemented stricter control over the supply chain.
Feng Li of Ruifeng Capital once gave an example of AAC Technologies, a company that makes acoustic components for Apple, to illustrate how Apple firmly controls the supply chain. “How does Apple control this critical supply chain? AAC Technologies has several production lines dedicated to supplying Apple. All the control software and computers on these lines are Apple’s, and the ERP system is also Apple’s. AAC is responsible for the production line. People often receive emails from Apple saying that there is something wrong with a certain part of a certain production line, and then Apple comes to grant permission to let the person in charge of the production line of AAC to check it on the spot. In addition, Apple has more than 20 engineers taking turns In the factory. Simply put, in principle, except for the equipment and workers, which are owned by AAC, the rest is controlled by Apple.”
Under this strong association, Apple has a considerable influence on the performance development and fate of its supply chain partners. As a result, some Chinese manufacturing companies have caught up with the rapid development train, which has also enhanced their reputation and influence in the industry.
However, too much dependence on Apple also implies risks. In March 2021, OFILM was unilaterally cancelled by Apple. This sudden behavior caused significant damage to this once-star enterprise on the fruit chain. The semi-annual report released by Ou Feiguang in August showed that its revenue in the first half of the year fell by 49.96% year-on-year, and its net profit attributable to its parent fell by 93.25% year-on-year. It has even begun to sell some assets at low prices to save itself.
According to a report from CCTV Finance, in May 2021, Apple announced the list of global suppliers in 2020, of which 34 suppliers were eliminated. At the same time, the report pointed out that the companies that once started with Apple are now actively looking for new ways to alleviate “Apple dependence.”
Cook is not Jobs, but a successful professional manager
Regardless of the controversy, the fact that is before people’s eyes today is that for ten years, the big ship of Apple has moved forward steadily under the leadership of Cook and has become a technological giant that affects the world. When Cook took over Apple ten years ago, the company’s market value was only $349 billion. By August 2018, Apple became the world’s first company with a market capitalization of US$1 trillion. And only 2 years later, its market value has exceeded 2 trillion US dollars.
In September 2013, in the Hongmeng Group’s “Best Global Brand” report, Apple surpassed Coca-Cola to become the world’s most valuable brand. In July 2020, Apple ranked first in the 2020 Global Brand Value Top 100 released by Forbes. In August of this year, Apple ranked 6th in the “2021 Fortune Global 500 Rankings” released by Fortune magazine.
Cook has also become one of the most successful professional managers in the world. In December 2014, Cook was named the 2014 Person of the Year by the Financial Times. In April 2018, “Forbes” magazine named the 2018 “World’s Greatest Leader” list, Tim Cook ranked 14th. And last month, Cook was selected into the “Time” magazine 2021 list of the 100 most influential people. Information shows that Cook’s total compensation in 2020 is 14.77 million US dollars, or about 95.38 million yuan. According to Bloomberg’s calculations, Cook’s net worth has exceeded $1 billion.
It is not easy to start a business, but it is even more difficult to maintain a career. Cook kept the legacy of Apple left by Jobs and continued to grow and develop. At this point, Cook “lived up to Jobs.” Every year on October 5th, Cook will send a message to commemorate Jobs: “The value of Apple begins with Steve, and we are all responsible for passing on his spiritual wealth.” “The only way to achieve a great cause is to love the work in hand. “The most important thing is to have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. I miss Jobs and the innovation he brought to the world.”
At the same time, Jobs and Cook have different value orientations and personal styles. The former is a pioneer who is passionate, emotional, tough, and full of personal charm. The latter is a steady, low-pitched, and strategic defender.
“Jobs Biography” mentioned Cook’s behavior in the Steve Jobs era and wrote: Under an irritable and violent boss, Cook always uses a calm attitude and the calmness that is unique to Alabama people. The accent and calm gaze control the situation. Although Cook would be happy, his usual expression was frowning, and his sense of humor was serious and unremarkable. The book also quoted Adam Rasinski of Fortune magazine: “He is known for uncomfortably long pauses at meetings. Every time you hear him The sound of tearing the wrapping paper of the energy bar he often eats.”
In fact, Cook never wanted to be the next Jobs. In an interview, he said, “I never wanted to be like him, because I know that the only person I can be is myself. I have been trying to be the best Tim Cook.”
Cook also has a new shaping of Apple’s culture and values, which is also a bright spot that is different from Jobs. According to the “Biography of Cook”, unlike Jobs, Cook will go deep among employees. Cook wanted to create a spirit of unity within the company, something that Jobs lacked when he took the helm. Cook began to send some emails within the company, and called Apple’s employees “Team.”
While leading Apple to continue its development, he emphasized the importance of user privacy protection, environmental protection, and racial equality. He also paid attention to gay rights and education in the United States, and took a series of actions in these areas. He is keen to do charity, and he has donated money to some organizations many times by himself and Apple. In 2015, in an interview with Fortune magazine, he stated that after supporting his 10-year-old nephew, he planned to “donate all his wealth”. In an interview with Time Magazine, he said that Apple should not only lead the trend in innovation, but also strive to make the world safer.
Even so, the controversy about Cook still does not have a complete conclusion. On every anniversary of Jobs, two different voices of doubt and affirmation will still emerge at the same time. As long as on any given day, Cook needs to continue to do “the right thing he understands” to respond to these evaluations.
In August of this year, Cook’s ten-year contract with Apple expired. But in an interview with the media, Cook said that he has no plans to leave in the short term, “I feel good now,” but he may not stay for another ten years. “10 years is too long, and I may not stay so long.” According to Bloomberg’s report, Apple’s internal view is that Cook just wants to launch one more major new product category. It may be augmented reality glasses, not a car-this one is more distant. He also understands that running a Silicon Valley company is usually a game for young people, and he will not stay here after his peak period.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gelman considered a number of factors and guessed about when Cook will leave Apple: Apple plans to launch a mixed reality helmet in 2022, augmented reality glasses in 2025, and a new stock incentive for Cook in 2025. The plan is fulfilled, Cook is 60 years old, and Cook said that he may not work at Apple for another 10 years and so on.
He speculated that Cook will retire sometime between 2025 and 2028.
Sun Wenxuan, Shell Financial Reporter, Beijing News