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When Tim Cook took over as CEO for Steve Jobs, almost everyone lauded the decision.Cook had served as interim CEO while Jobs was sick and did a brilliant job keeping things operating on schedule. It made perfect sense to have him become the permanent CEO.
But now that Jobs is dead, Cook’s role as CEO is starting to come into question, ever so slightly.
Scott Forstall, the fired leader of iOS, had been telling people that Apple without Jobs doesn’t have a “decider.” There is no final voice who says yes or no to new products and new features.
And despite the big executive shuffle which led to Forstall being forced out, Jessica Lessin at the Wall Street Journal says Apple still doesn’t have a clear cut decider.
Jobs was the ultimate decider.
He wanted Apple to make a tablet before it made a phone. But when he saw the tablet, he realised it should be a phone. He scrapped plans for the tablet and pushed the company to make the iPhone. Later, he decided to do the iPad.
This is just one of many examples where Jobs made the final decisions.
Cook is a brilliant operations guy, but according to Jobs, “Tim’s not a product person, per se.” Considering that Apple is a product person at its core, this could become a problem.
The CEO has to be the ultimate decider, and if he’s not a product person, the Apple’s ability to create the next generation of innovative products is at risk.
Jobs himself said that Microsoft’s slide into irrelevancy was driven by the fact that a sales guy, Steve Ballmer, took over. Cook is similar to Ballmer in that he’s traditionally focused on the performance of the business, not the invention of new products.
Cook seems to be different because he’s obsessed with Apple making great products. Still, how will he know which ones are great, and which are good? That’s never been his decision.
It seems the new “decider” at the company is going to be Jony Ive, who leads hardware and software design.
But, Phil Schiller, who is SVP of Marketing, will probably have a lot of input in product releases. (He does more than just marketing, he’s the one who came up with the click wheel for the iPod.)
Both of them have to get sign-off from Cook, so it’s more complicated than when Jobs just said yes or no to everything and then others worked off his vision.
The bottom line is that Apple is still sorting out the post-Steve Jobs era. And with competition more fierce than ever, it better figure it all out sooner than later.
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