Photo: Asa Mathat | All Things Digital
Tim Cook sat for almost two hours with journalist Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, answering any question they would could throw at him.The reaction to Cook’s performance was largely positive. (One example, Jason Calacanis: “After watching this keynote I want to put every dollar I have into $aapl Cook is phenomenal communicator–but different than Jobs.”)
No doubt, Cook appears to be very good at being the CEO of Apple. However, we had one lingering thought we had after reading Twitter, and various live blogs, during his interview: Who is really running Apple?
One of the more revealing questions of the night came when Walt Mossberg asked, “Who is the curator” at Apple now that Steve Jobs is dead. In other words who makes the final yes or no decision on a product and its design.
Cook’s answer was vague. He just said “that role moves, and it’s always moved,” according to The Verge’s live blog.
Mossberg pressed Cook, saying the myth that Jobs did everything and was the final decider wasn’t true?
Cook was again evasive, saying, “If you look at what we’re doing, it’s obvious. It’s always moved. He brought in great people. I wouldn’t get overly focused on who does what piece. There are a lot of key people.”
There are a lot of great people at Apple. But, those great people were always held accountable by one man: Steve Jobs. And Steve Jobs was a visionary with great taste who could make or break products at Apple.
Tim Cook is not like Jobs. He’s not a visionary product guy.
Later, Cook was asked if he was involved in product design and marketing, two of Jobs’ strengths and two things that separated Apple from its rivals. Cook said no, those were areas Jobs spent more time. Then he seemed to hedge a little, saying, “I would say I am spending time in several areas, not exclusively those two,” according to All Things D’s live blog.
So, we want to know, who is in charge of those things?
Is it Jony Ive, the brilliant designer who decides what the iPhone and iPad will look like?
Is is it Scott Forstall the software chief leading the iOS team? Are they working together? Previous reports said Forstall and Ive hate each other’s guts and can’t be in the same room.
Who is the mediator between them? Who is the tie-breaker? Is it Cook? Would they trust his “taste”?
Who is the person that has final say on products? Weirdly, it still seems to be Steve Jobs.
There’s this idea out there that Jobs laid out a product roadmap for this year, and maybe next. He was reportedly involved in the design of the next iPhone, and the Apple television. If this is true, it can only last for so long.
Apple is going to eventually need one person that’s saying yes to the good stuff and no to the bad stuff. That person doesn’t appear to be Tim Cook.
So, who is it?
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