Tim Cook's First Year Running Apple Has Been Insanely Great

Tim Cook Smiling

Photo: AP Images

One year ago today, Tim Cook was officially named the full-time CEO of Apple.At the time it was a sad event because it was the most definitive signal yet that Steve Jobs was close to death.

It also should have given some investors reason to worry about the long term health of Apple. Without Jobs running the show, could it continue to release hit product after hit product?

We still have many years to answer that question, but investors have bought into the Tim Cook-era in a big way. The stock is up 76% since Cook took over. Apple is reporting monster earnings, and it’s cranking out new products.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing though. Apple has made three highly visible mistakes in the last month, and it’s had two earnings misses.

We’re taking a look back at everything major that’s happened in the last year for Cook.

He instituted a charitable donation program at Apple

Apple instituted a program of matching employee donations to non-profit organisations up to $10,000 per year. This is a small but significant change for Apple. Under Steve Jobs, the company did not donations (none that were made public, anyway.) As of last November, the program raised $2.6 million for employees, according to Apple Insider.

Apple had monster earnings reports, as well as TWO earnings misses

Apple has reported record setting revenues and profits. But it's also had two earnings misses against Wall Street's expectations. That's sort of surprising. It might miss next quarter, too! But, it hasn't really hurt the company's stock performance.

The stock has gone to the moon.

Apple's stock is up 76% on a year over year basis. As measured on a nominal basis, it is the most valuable U.S. company of all time. (Inflation-adjusted it still has a ways to go.)

Right now, it sure seems like Apple is a leaky company. We've seen just about every part of the next iPhone leak on the web. If these leaks are accurate, and this is what the next iPhone looks like, it's going to make Tim Cook's claim that he was 'doubling down on secrecy' look silly.

We're sympathetic to Cook's situation. He runs the most scrutinized company in the world, and has to deal with supply chain partners with thousands of employees who have little loyalty to Apple and don't mind leaking parts.

Apple released the new iPad, a wonderful, if incremental product upgrade

Everyone expected the iPad 3. Instead they got the 'new iPad,' which is basically an iPad 2 with a retina display. It's a fantastic device and it's led to Apple continuing to dominate the tablet market.

Apple didn't release an iPhone 5

We got the iPhone 4S, a slight bump over the iPhone 4. It sold in record amounts for two quarters before falling back to earth last quarter. The lack of a design change is making the iPhone 4S feel a little stale right now as we all wait for the next generation iPhone to come out.

Tim Cook (finally) gave investors a dividend AND authorised a stock buyback plan

Apple has over $100 billion in cash. It's just been sitting on that cash for years and years. Finally, Tim Cook cracked and decided to declare a dividend and a share buyback plan, something investors have been asking for.

Apple's ads have arguably gotten worse

When Steve Jobs died, it was inevitable that people were going to say, 'This would have never happened if Steve Jobs was still alive,' about certain decisions. The number one change at Apple that seems to have invoked that phrase is new advertising. The celebrity ads for Siri weren't well received. Neither we the new 'Genius' ads, which Apple has seemingly pulled altogether.

Apple pulled out of EPEAT, then apologized, and re-joined

Apple jumped out of the environmental group EPEAT in part because one of its requirements is that a product must be easily disassembled. Apple likes to do the opposite of that. But by ditching EPEAT, Apple was going to lose some major customers like the city of San Francisco. So, it very quickly backtracked and even apologized for the move.

Apple also had to apologise for cutting back on retail employee hours

Apple hired John Browett to lead its retail operations. After giving retail employees a big raise, he decided to cut back on their hours and freeze hiring to boost profits. This seemed like a foolish, greedy decision. Apple quickly reversed course and apologized again for making an error.

Tim Cook very successfully dealt with the Foxconn scandal

Earlier this year, Apple was at risk of being mired in a scandal involving its supply chain partner Foxconn. After the New York Times and This American Life putting out damning reports on the manufacturer it looked like Apple had a mess on its hands.

Cook was bailed out when it was revealed This American Life's report relied on largely fabricated stories. But, Cook and Apple did a good job of dealing with the issue. It was impossible to listen to Cook talk about human rights at Foxconn factories and not believe he was doing everything possible to improve conditions.

And for the most part things have improved. Pay is up, working hours are down.

What about the next big Apple product?

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