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Apple CEO Tim Cook: 'I've Only Had Good Years' ( 84

Business Insider: Under CEO Tim Cook's watch, Apple has sold hundreds of millions of iPhones, booked hundreds of billions of dollars in profit, and launched new products like AirPods and Apple Watch. In fact, Cook says, he's never had a bad year as CEO of Apple. "I've only had good years. No, seriously," he said in an interview with Fast Company. "Even when we were idling from a revenue point of view -- it was like $6 billion every year -- those were some incredibly good years because you could begin to feel the pipeline getting better, and you could see it internally. Externally, people couldn't see that," he continued.
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Apple CEO Tim Cook: 'I've Only Had Good Years'

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  • The external view (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    those were some incredibly good years because you could begin to feel the pipeline getting better, and you could see it internally. Externally, people couldn't see that

    He's got a good point. Externally, we only saw the amazingly shitty products. The insider's view is that they have found people willing to buy that shit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @12:51PM (#56163993)

    So you had Jobs who had vision. Then you have Cook who is very good at ops. He can squeeze every last cent out of everything they do.
    Problem with these ops people is that they have no vision. Yea, now that he's in charge they're more profitable than ever. But product quality has suffered and they're not innovating. Not in any meaningful way, anyway.
    This always ends the same way. The ops guy will get the company as efficient as he can, but they wont be doing anything new and it will take a dive.

    • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @02:00PM (#56164663)

      Jobs main talent was he was easily annoyed, which led to finding products that fixed annoyances.

      However I;d say he was more salesman than visionary,

      The thing that made the products Apple came out with really refined and useful, was the input that the true visionary - Ives - came up with. Apple is not short on ideas to this day, but would really have trouble if it did not have someone like Ives to shape them.

      The proof is in the pudding, as in the fact that Apple really has not had a decline since Jobs left - at any other company disaster would have followed soon after.

      • by imgod2u ( 812837 )

        I get the feeling Jobs was good at reigning in some of Ive's more out-there ideas and only keeping the good parts. He probably also kept Ives on-point instead of letting him go off and design storefronts or t-shirts or whatever the fuck he wanted while the main product line lingered.

        The phone needed the X update like 2 years ago. We should be on 3rd gen OLED by now with a much more radical design change. But Ive was too busy hanging out with Taylor Swift or something.

        • I get the feeling Jobs was good at reigning in some of Ive's more out-there ideas and only keeping the good parts

          Jobs was certainly better at that but I feel like Apple has a team that keeps him more reigned in than he would be otherwise. With the possible exception of the new offices...

          We should be on 3rd gen OLED by now

          There I disagree. I feel like OLED's were all over the map in terms of quality until just recently, like color shifts and screen sharpness from what I saw of earlier (and even some recent

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's the same cycle that Microsoft went through.

      After Gates left and Ballmer took over. They had a number of years of great revenue, but they had no long term vision. A decent businessman can optimize a large company like Apple or Microsoft to increase revenue for a few years.

      But when most of your profit gains come from cutting costs and improving effeciency, you're not gaining long term market penetration. When people move on from your current product lines (Desktops/Laptops to Mobile, native applicatio

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      So you had Jobs who had vision. Then you have Cook who is very good at ops. He can squeeze every last cent out of everything they do.

      I'm in the Apple ecosystem - have been for about 15 years. But Tim Cook - and the current crop of vocal Apple apologists - remind me uncannily of Steve Ballmer and the Microsoft apologists from 15 years ago.

  • >> you could begin to feel the pipeline getting better

    Um, are still talking about finances and products, Tim? (uncomfortable silence)
  • To a CEO, a good product is one that sells, and Apple devices sell primarily because of lock in to the ecosystem. Of course he has good years if he sets the bar that low.
  • by SensitiveMale ( 155605 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @12:57PM (#56164041)

    Apple hasn't innovated since Jobs died. Don't get me wrong. Anyone following Jobs would be found wanting. But Cook is a manager, not a leader and it shows.

    • by nucrash ( 549705 )

      Apple has had a couple of innovative products, but nothing that really changed the way we live like the iPhone.
      The touch bar isn't happening or if it is, it's not happening quick enough.
      Thunderbolt/USB3 is not happening soon enough.
      The iPhone X has slow adoption rates, but that's fine. Other products are picking up the slack
      Apple is trying to shift the iPad into the consumer/entry level developer world and that's just not happening.

      Steve Jobs had probably a four year road map when he departed. They have e

      • Apple has had a couple of innovative products, but nothing that really changed the way we live like the iPhone.

        Not quite to the same extent but tablets have changed things almost as much. Before Apple showed people would buy an iPad there were not many people who made tablets people would buy. That is transforming the PC industry...

        The touch bar isn't happening or if it is, it's not happening quick enough.

        I agree, but to me this is because Apple has not included it on any external keyboard. But it is rea

        • by Holi ( 250190 )
          Thunderbolt/USB3 is not Apple, That would be Intel.
      • The iPhone did not change our lives. The Appstore did. And what made the Appstore successfull was the mortgage crises. Suddenly we had a lot of unemployed programmers willing to devote their coding time for free in hopes of winning the appstore lottery. A lot of coding got done for free which Apple could never have afforded to pay for and quantity has a quality of its own. Throw enough monkeys at a typewriter and you get hamlet. Throw enough unemployed coders at the appstore and you get innovative apps. Wit

      • Innovation? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by YuppieScum ( 1096 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @02:05PM (#56164709) Journal
        The last "innovative" product Apple produced was iTunes.

        MP3 players existed long before the iPod, but iTunes allowed trivial point/click to buy and download, and at the same time locked you in to their ecosystem.

        The iPhone was just an extension of the iPod by way of the Touch. Smart-phones (with rounded corners) had existed for some years beforehand, and were certainly more functional that the iPhone version 1 - cut/paste and MMS, anybody?

        Likewise the iPad - again, nothing innovative, as other similar products existed before the Apple offering.

        The MacBook Air only "innovated" by removing functionality from a standard laptop, such as optical drives, ethernet ports, multiple USBs and, of course, user-upgradability and removable batteries.

        What else? Firewire wasn't theirs, likewise Thunderbolt. AirPods? Maybe, if they worked properly...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Steve Jobs was never complacent. OK, there was only one Steve Jobs, and nobody has his feel for products or his salesmanship, but at least Cook could emulate his lack of complacency.

  • Steve Jobs -- pioneer of computing as a prison. Tim Cook -- master promoter of the same business model. Two sides of the same coin, ta hell with them both.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Oh please. He has been talking about this magical pipeline pretty much since Jobs died. He is always excited about it. Maybe we are just around the corner from some amazing things, but so far the only new thing has been the watch. Everything else has just been small increments of the same tired form-factors. As he says, they idle on billions of dollars, yet all they are able to produce is a speaker and notched screen.

  • by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @01:34PM (#56164391)

    "$6 billion every year

    That's a very nice idle profit rate... Especially in a time when other computer companies saw sinking profits or even losses.

  • As long as Apple keeps selling more iPhones at higher price points, everything will be "good", i.e. lots of revenues and profits.

    But Cook has hollowed out the rest of the Apple product line, and made design decisions that have nothing to do with usability but everything to do with "style". No updates to the Mac Mini or Mac Pro in years, the MacBook Pro is an absolute joke, no attempt to improve on the Airport Extreme, etc. Sure, those products are tiny blips in Apple's quarterly revenue, but they are the

    • by ghoul ( 157158 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @02:03PM (#56164691)

      Apple was founded by a product manager, Microsoft by an Engineer. Engineer's think features are cool. Product managers are more focused on all of it just working together seamlessly even if has far fewer features. Apple has never innovated and been the lead on any technology. It has always been the fast copier and copied other people's innovations, simplified them, rounded the edges and come out with a product which "just works".

      For Apple's model to work there need to be other companies in the market doing the innovation. With the iPhone becoming a monster and capturing 90% of the profits in the smartphone market there is not much money left on the table for other companies to innovate so I do not expect any great advancements in the smartphone market.

      However there are other markets like voice assistants, AI, Cars etc where Apple can take the innovations of Engineer led companies like Google, Amazon, Tesla and repackage them as iProducts which "just work". Thats where Apple's growth will come from.

      • by garote ( 682822 )

        Haaahaha "engineer led".

        Google is not "engineer led". Sundar Pichai is a product manager and has been in charge for three years. Google's portfolio is stuffed full of "me too" products, building on the innovations of others, including every physical device they have ever made, and every iteration of Android in the last ten years. Their revenue stream is selling information to marketers. Everything else they do is in pursuit of that, or is a vanity project designed to position themselves in the market or

        • by ghoul ( 157158 )

          If you have worked inside Apple you would know that whatever "Business" says is needed goes and to hell with SDLC, plans, QA . Google regularly slips dates to let the Engineers do it right.
          Apple designers do have a lot of political clout and force a lot of frustating changes on the Engineers. Engineers at Apple are pretty miserable but stay for the stock options. Engineers at Google are having fun.

    • I could never recommend to people that they buy Apple, knowing that you don't really get much in return for the added cost.
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook: "God damn it, I'm lucky Steve Jobs existed!"

  • by crgrace ( 220738 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @02:22PM (#56164845)

    ... until he didn't.

    Like Cook, John Sculley was handed a pipeline of innovation. Sculley was a business manager, like Cook, and was successful in reducing some of Apples destructive excesses. However, besides his childlike fascination with the Newton, he didn't really have any kind of vision for the company and it was inevitable that Apple would hit a wall, because direct competition with Microsoft was suicide (as Apple would soon learn).

    Sculley's greatest weakness, in my opinion, was that he didn't have the courage of his own convictions, and let a few inner-circle trusted managers whisper into his ear (*cough* Jean-Louis Gassee).

    I have no idea if Cook is taking direction from anyone, but he seems focused on his strength, supply chain management. This will continue to increase or maintain Apple's profits while it coasts. It will work great, until it doesn't.

    Apple may have yet another reckoning in the somewhat near future. The way they are focusing like a laser on iPhone and seemingly forgetting they have a really profitable Mac business will be their undoing in my opinion. Just look at how much the quality of Apple's system and some of its application software has declined over the last few years. It used to "just work" and now is finicky, bloated, and cumbersome. It is difficult to make the argument that MacOS is miles ahead of Windows, which you could do for years.

    We shall see.

    • by imgod2u ( 812837 )

      The quality of iOS matters a whole lot more than the quality of MacOS. MacOS's only real purpose these days is for a limited market; there are plenty of people who get by with just an iOS device and a really cheap Windows (or Chrome) laptop.

      iOS has been, however, not only stagnant but buggy as hell over the last few versions. Meanwhile Android has made really large strides getting more polished.

  • - it was like $6 billion every year -- those were some incredibly good years because you could begin to feel the pipeline getting better

    Yeah.... Cook has just been making the process for profiting from PAST innovations more efficient ---- sure the revenue is great in the short term, but you're in an industry that's innovate or die, and Cook has killed innovation AND excellence of Apple notebooks it seems like:
    Your customers really don't want the silly touchbar, loss of physical power button, SS

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb