WorldWide Tech & Science. Francisco De Jesús.
Despite differences in style, the two share an equal intensity.
Apple Inc chief executive officer (CEO) Tim Cook faces the challenge of crafting the company’s strategy following the death of Steve Jobs, a man he called “a visionary and creative genius.”
Cook, who became CEO on August 24 after Jobs switched to the role of chairman, announced his predecessor’s death yesterday in a message to employees. “Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being,” Cook said in the memo. “Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.”
The announcement came one day after Cook took the stage to introduce a new iPhone, marking his first product unveiling since taking the reins. To maintain Apple’s growth, he will have to push into more new markets, continue the company’s Asian expansion and execute a shift to cloud computing.
Apple’s shares dipped as much as 2.2 per cent to $370 as of 7:34 am New York time in early trading. They had climbed 17 per cent this year till today.
Jobs hired Cook from Compaq Computer Corp in 1998, and the deputy soon proved his mettle as an operations expert. Cook transformed inventory management to enable Apple to ship the iconic iMac in a rainbow of colours, deviating from the typical plain beige box. He was later able to orchestrate the speedy delivery of iPods, iPads and iPhones, often within 48 hours, to help forge an army of Apple loyalists.
Cook must now take up the mantle of charting Apple’s creative vision, something he was less involved with in his previous job as chief operations officer.
Following Jobs’s retirement as CEO, Cook told employees, “Apple is not going to change” and he reiterated the thought yesterday: “We will honour his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much.”
Cook led the company when Jobs was out during three medical leaves. Though he’s a counterpoint to Jobs’s more emotional personality, the men are two sides of the same coin, said Mike Janes, who used to run Apple’s online store. Both are demanding leaders with an attention to detail.
“Despite their style differences, their intensity is basically equal,” Janes, now the CEO of tickets search engine FanSnap.com, said in an interview earlier this year. “They are both perfectionists.”
Jobs’ absence was palpable through the 90-minute introduction of the iPhone 4S this week at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. “This is my first product launch since being named CEO,” Cook said, the only Jobs reference, if veiled, at the entire event. “I’m sure you didn’t know that.”
Jobs was renowned for stirring, meticulously rehearsed pitches. Cook delivered his remarks more slowly and methodically, and he let other executives do much of the presentation.
“There’s no way to replace Steve Jobs, and there were times during the performance that you felt that,” said Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos. Still, Cook is the right man to carry on the vision, Munster said.
“Jobs’s final act as CEO was another of his many great accomplishments,” Munster said yesterday in a report. He reiterated his endorsement of Apple’s stock. “Cook is capable of running Apple, but his rare combination of extreme humility and insatiable motivation make him uniquely suited to continue Jobs’s work as CEO and carry on his vision with a peerless executive team.”
Cook is typically found working long hours at the company’s headquarters or travelling around the world to meet suppliers and manufacturers, Janes said. Cook led the company’s negotiations with Verizon Wireless to bring the iPhone to that carrier in the US this year.