When Tim Cook became the full-time CEO of Apple, it was one of those good news, bad news situations for him.
The good news is that he gets to run the most important tech company in the world. It’s a company that coins money.
The bad news is that he’s taking over for arguably the greatest businessman of all time in Steve Jobs. There’s not much Cook can do to improve Apple, but there’s a lot he can do to screw it up.
Luckily, so far he’s been pretty great. There have been some mistakes, which we plan to address tomorrow, but overall he’s done a good job. In this slideshow, we’re running through 10 things we think he’s done well since taking over.
When Steve Jobs died, there didn't seem to be that guy at Apple. The guy who would make the final call on products. The guy who had the vision for consumer electronics. Cook isn't a product guy. He's an operations guy. He had two high ranking products guys: Jony Ive and Scott Forstall. They didn't like each other. So Cook decided to remove Forstall and elevate Ive. Considering Ive's track record in design and his closeness with Steve Jobs, we think this was the right call.
Steve Jobs trashed small tablets when they were first hitting the market. Cook could have just followed what Jobs said initially and not released the iPad Mini. Luckily, he didn't. And now the iPad Mini is the best selling tablet on the market, according to most analysts.
Apple's Maps were a real debacle. Cook's decision to apologise seemed very un-Apple like, but it was smart. He acknowledged the company's error and promised to improve the maps. It's still a big blot on his record, but he handled it well.
Around this time last year Apple was under heavy fire for the working conditions in the factories that made iPhones. Tim Cook took the criticism to heart and actively pushed to improve the working conditions at Foxconn, Apple's manufacturing partner. While it's not perfect, Apple's manufacturers are much improved. And more than any other tech company Apple has been leading the way on providing transparency into its manufacturing.
Apple's cash pile is obnoxious. It's currently somewhere around ~$150 billion. For years, Apple didn't do anything with it. Last year, Tim Cook approved a dividend and a buyback, which is a nice reward for shareholders. He's probably going to do it again this year, which would be even nicer for shareholders who have seen the stock lose 35 per cent of its value from its peak.
Bob Mansfield was Apple's leading hardware engineer. He was ready to retire, but Tim Cook managed to convince him to stick around. (A big check helped, as did the ouster of Scott Forstall.) Mansfield is good to keep on the staff to help guide his replacement, and to work on new secret Apple products.
One of the first things Tim Cook did as CEO was announce Apple would match charitable donations made by its employees. This is something Apple never did with Steve Jobs, who was notorious for not doing any philanthropy. It was a good move on Cook's part because it creates goodwill for the company and its employees.
Apple's iPhone remains the best smartphone in the world. People probably take it for granted that Apple released a great phone. They shouldn't. Plus, the iPhone 5 had its most aggressive product roll out yet, and for the most part met demand.
Apple has been locked in a bunch of legal battles over patents. Cook has said he hates legal warfare. He's right to hate it. It just drags on and on and does little to change the overall market. He settled with HTC over patent suits, reportedly collecting $180 million+ per year as a result of the settlement. He tried to settle with Samsung, but they couldn't reach an agreement. Too bad for Samsung since Apple won its big U.S. case. Anyway, settling is a smarter approach than endless fights in the courts.
Two of Apple's biggest rivals were also two of its most important partners with the iPhone. Google had maps and YouTube on iOS by default. Samsung manufactures Apple's chips and some of Apple's displays.
Cook has removed YouTube and Google Maps. Removing Google Maps could have gone better, but the idea is smart. Don't give Google too much information on iOS. It also gives Apple the chance to offer turn by turn directions for free.
As for Samsung, it is Apple's biggest smartphone rival and a legal nemesis. Yet, Apple relies on Samsung to make the iPhone. Apple is said to be in discussions with other chip makers. And DigiTimes reports Samsung is trying to win back Apple's display business.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Tim Cook hasn't made a lot of radical moves at Apple. He shouldn't, at least not right away. Apple is doing well. Over the long run, in the tech business you can't sit still. We assume Cook is going to make big changes over time.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.