Tomorrow, October 5th, the world, or at least that small technology obsessed part of it, will mark the first anniversary of the death of Steve Jobs, the Former CEO of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).
So far this week, renewed attention has come to the work of Jobs, including articles claiming him a clairvoyant, and others being merely reprinted obituaries. One topic, sure to be discussed ad nauseum in the coming days, is the changes that have taken place since the death of the technology luminary.
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CNN.com has gotten ahead of the pack today, printing an article with just that topic. The article measures the actions of new Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO, Tim Cook, against those of his predecessor.
The major conclusions of that piece are that Apple has made better its public relations under the reign of the new chief, while sacrificing some of the mystique of the firm. On the other hand, the firm may be less of a perfectionist without Jobs, and that may hurt it in the long run.
Despite the importance of anniversaries, and the need to reflect when they come around, it is, in truth, much to early to measure Tim Cook’s performance at Apple. He has certainly not done anything that will obviously swing the firm’s fortunes positively or negatively in the coming years.
To those, including myself at times, who say that Cook has not yet released a truly new product, it really depends on your point of view. To critics of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) the Cupertino company has not innovated anything in the last ten years.
Less extreme, albeit still harsh, critics count the iPhone as the only major innovation in recent years. The iPad is merely a larger iPhone, and each generation of the devices is just a natural evolution. There has not been anything dramatic.
The major consensus on the latest iPhone model, the first which Cook worked without the oversight of Jobs, was that it was pedestrian. It was probably the most dramatic change in any iPhone model since the first.
The online rumor mill, and the tech criticism which bleeds from every corner of the Internet, leaves almost all commentators jaded as soon as a new iPhone is released. The major change in this model, its vertical height, was anticipated months before.
Of course a product is going to be pedestrian, if you’ve been reading about it for six months. Technology celebrates the new. Apple’s products, despite great updates, just don’t seem that new anymore. They’ve lost some novelty appeal, though it has not yet significantly damaged demand.
The iPad mini, if it comes into being, release will be similarly boring. Though it can certainly be seen as a real product line addition, it will be discounted by many, as “just a smaller iPad”. It seems impossible for Cook to be first in this regard.
Without the release of a full Apple Television product, or a dramatic change in the iMac line of desktops, Cook might spend his entire tenure at the company creating great products that are never called truly new.
One year after Jobs’ death it may be time to agree that somewhere between the iPhone 5, the new iPad, and the Retina MacBook Pro, Cook has in fact delivered unto the public a new product.
One of the most talked about issues at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) of late, has been the problems with the company’s mapping service. Cook certainly handled the debacle differently than Jobs might have, coming out early and apologizing to customers, while offering them alternatives.
The CNN article rightly makes comparison to Steve Jobs’ 2010 apology about antennae problems on the iPhone 4. That came a month late, and didn’t seem to approach the sincerity of Cook’s effort.
Some welcome the new found openness at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). Others think the way Jobs handled things added mystique and some sense of quality to the product.
Those who think that the quality of Apple products has declined under Cook, now point to the mapping problems as exemplary. The iPhone’s antennae problems, along with countless other issues with Apple’s products, were under Jobs’ watch.
Apple’s products often have issues. The company’s updates are often not the most innovative, or the most powerful on the market. For some reason, consumers love them. Many will put this down to marketing, or an Orwellian social structure, propagating Apple devices when surely Android devices are infinitely superior.
Apple’s products have enduring appeal. Tim Cook has not changed that, and it does not look like he’s going to. The company’s financial results are still coming in strong, and this month might be the company’s best ever.
Tim Cook is performing solidly at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). He doesn’t have the personal appeal that Steve Jobs had, that much is obvious. The absence of that personal appeal has not damaged demand for the company’s products. It may in the future, but such a thing is extraordinarily difficult to predict. How much of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s success would analysts attribute to the magnetism of Steve Jobs?