A lot of people — myself included — have been critical of Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.
My main criticism for Cook is that Apple’s sales growth has slumped to low single digits. During this period of extreme sales growth deceleration, Cook has done very little to diversify Apple’s product line. He has essentially kept the same line of products at the same price in place.
Other people have been much harsher. They say Apple is doomed without Steve Jobs. They say it will not be an innovative force in technology anymore, and that it will be lapped by Google, Amazon, Samsung, Facebook, and whoever else.
The most critical judge of Cook may be Yukari Iwatani Kane, who wrote a whole book on the subject called, “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs.”
Bloomberg Businessweek reporter Brad Stone reviewed Kane’s book for The New York Times. Generally, he’s not that impressed by it. He calls it “a well-reported but premature evaluation of the post-Jobs era.”
In Stone’s review, he actually provides a deeper insight into Apple than Kane’s entire book. It’s an insight that we haven’t seen written anywhere else, but it does a better job of explaining Tim Cook’s Apple than perhaps anyone else has thus far. Here’s Stone:
In fact, “Haunted Empire” reminds one of just how many problems Apple’s co-founder handed off to his successor. It was Jobs, furious at his putative allies at Google, who steered Apple into its endless patent battle with Samsung over Android. And it was Jobs, aiming to dethrone Jeff Bezos as the king of digital books, who clumsily herded book publishers into a pricing scheme that attracted the attention of the Justice Department, and which a judge later found to be unlawful. In a sense, Cook is still cleaning up messes left by the man whom the world roundly crowned, in a period of understandable mourning, as an unparalleled business genius.
Many people thought of Apple as a hot rod ripping down the road. All Cook had to do was take the wheel and keep things going.
And Jobs most certainly left behind a great company with great people in great shape.
But it’s not as simple as just keeping the car pointed in the right direction. Jobs’ death left a massive vacuum at Apple. Every major decision ran through Jobs. Cook was not the same sort of visionary leader who was going to make a call on every product detail.
With Jobs gone, the visionary role needed to be filled. Jony Ive, who led hardware product design was jockeying with Scott Forstall, who led software product design for that slot. Ultimately, Cook had to choose. He went with Ive, and the ramifications of that selection are still being sorted out today at Apple.
Choosing Ive over Forstall represented a cultural shift for Apple. Jobs fostered a competitive, even adversarial, environment for executives at Apple. Cook wanted to create a more collaborative environment.
While he was refashioning Apple in his own vision, the technology industry didn’t hit pause. It continued to charge ahead.
Now, however, Apple has its top executives in line, it’s close to completing an overhaul of its software, and it should be ready to go for the next five years.
The next 12 months at Apple will give us a truer sense of Tim Cook’s Apple.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.