With Jobs on the sidelines, Apple is in the capable hands of Tim Cook

Tue, Jan 18, 2011

Featured, News

With Steve Jobs taking another medical leave of absence from Apple, COO Tim Cook will handle Apple’s day to day operations while Jobs remains involved in the company’s major strategic decisions. And while Apple critics, and even fans, might assume that Jobs is solely responsible for Apple’s success over the past decade, the reality is a lot more layered than that.

The reality is that Apple is a huge corporation with thousands of bright and talented workers under its employ. From executives and engineers to artists and a host of other positions, Apple is a company that prides itself on hiring the best and the brightest to work together towards a common goal – delivering kick-ass and easy to use products to consumers.

That said, Apple COO Tim Cook is universally respected for his role within Apple, and much like he proved during his interim CEO stint in 2009, he is more than capable of keeping Apple on track while Jobs hopefully kicks whatever medical ailment he’s currently suffering from.

In a profile on Apple’s executive team, the New York Times specifically highlights Cook’s ability to stay the course and how Cook shares many of the same Jobsian traits widely considered important to Apple’s impressive corporate turnaround.

During Jobs’ 2009 medical leave of absence, for example, iPhone 4 and iPad development continued unabated while Mac sales increased and set, what were at the time, sales records. Moreover, Apple under Cook delivered record breaking earnings. Clearly Apple is a machine with many moving parts already in motion and Cook is decidedly the man Jobs trusts the most to keep the ball of innovation and success rolling.

Indeed, Cook’s role within Apple may very well be more grandiose than the public realizes.

While Mr. Jobs has remained intimately involved in the company despite his health, Mr. Cook’s responsibilities, and his position as apparent heir to Mr. Jobs, have strengthened.

“I was with Tim Cook last week in New York and I walked away from that thinking, ‘This guy is more in charge and more in control of Apple than I think people understand,’ ” said Tim Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies who has followed Apple for nearly three decades. “He clearly is the guy that if Apple needed additional leadership at the top, could actually carry it.”

Analysts said that like Mr. Jobs, Mr. Cook is obsessed with details and involved in minute elements of the business. “Tim is obsessive about operational detail, and Steve is obsessive about product detail,” said Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray.

Also, people tend to forget that Jobs has filled the executive ranks at Apple with folks who share his vision and ideolagy about technology. While some of these folks have stepped into the spotlight, i.e Scott Forstall and Phil Schiller, rest assured that Apple’s entire upper management team collectively can pick up the slack for Jobs in the interim.

To be clear, Jobs’ role in resurrecting Apple to greatness can’t be overstated, but part of that process was creating a strong base of equally bright and forward thinking executives to help achieve a common goal.

Would Apple have survived had Jobs not returned to Apple in 1997? Doubtful.

Can Apple survive if Jobs doesn’t return to Apple? Most definitely.


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