Tim Cook’s Apple Legacy

I have a theory that when a major biography of a major business person appears when said person is still working their career, it signals that their career is over, or getting there. Maybe Tim will be around awhile, maybe not. But I do think Tim’s Apple legacy will show that he was a far better COO than a CEO, and that he lacked Steve’s ability to find truly great talent.

I also think that the heart of Tim Cook’s Apple legacy, his supply chain and manufacturing process prowess will be very controversial. No doubt his early Apple career work was crucial to Apple’s rebirth, but it came at a price that would be paid later. The price was putting everything in the China basket instead of spreading risk for the supply chain and manufacturing, and the political risk it put on Apple keeping the Chinese Communist government happy.

When Tim Cook came to Japan in fall of 2016, BuzzFeed quoted him saying that it was his first time to Japan. Let’s look at this from 3 viewpoints.

  1. First visit to Japan as Apple CEO: Tim became Apple CEO in late 2011. He was undoubtedly busy after Steve Jobs passed away, but 5 years of not visiting an important market for Apple with many crucial iPhone part suppliers is weird.
  2. First visit to Japan in Apple career: a supply chain guru who never visits an important supply chain country that his boss visited all the time, wtf?
  3. First visit to Japan ever: does Tim have a problem with Japan?

Maybe BuzzFeed got the context wrong, or wrong altogether since it’s BuzzFeed, right? Whatever the reason, Steve Jobs was well know in Japan for coming here on business and pleasure. There is no doubt in my mind he made the decision to use, and perhaps even found, the shiny metal back case of the original iPod manufactured in a tiny factory in Niigata. Was that perfectly polished metal case important to the iPod manufacture process? Probably not. Was that perfectly polished metal case important to the success of iPod? Absolutely yes.

Tim Cook doesn’t have Steve’s gift of finding people and parts, but who does? It’s a rare thing. In the long run, Tim’s China obsession will be seen as his biggest flaw.

Apple Event 2018 and Apple Values

1️⃣ iPhone X Suica Problem Q&A Exchange Guide
2️⃣ iPhone X Suica問題Q&A交換ガイド (Japanese)
3️⃣ Apple Denial and iPhone X Users
4️⃣ iPhone X Suica Problem Index

The Apple Event 2018 is less than 12 hours away. I’ll watch it and understand the excitement surrounding it, but it already feels very different from any other iPhone announcement, like something telecast from another time and place.

I have enjoyed my iPhone X in many ways but wanted to enjoy it more. Right of the box my iPhone X Suica Problem device was an annoyance but the Apple Pay Suica problem stubbornly remained, iOS update after update, exchange after exchange until I got my hands on a Rev-B iPhone X. Every step of the 11 month journey has been an endless loop between ‘Apple will do right by its customers’ hope and ‘Apple doesn’t give a damn about customers, they only care about pretending they do’ reality.

Nobody wants to unearth a fiasco, which I believe the iPhone X Suica Problem is, and there is only one conclusion I can come up with: Apple knew they were selling defective iPhone X devices but sold them anyway. Apple refuses to acknowledge the problem publicly and refuses to exchange all the iPhone X devices they know to be defective. It gets worse: a Docomo source told me Apple told Docomo to keep quiet about the problem.

The decision to sell a flagship product with a known defect reflects the corporate values of the current Apple executive leadership. Tim Cook and team are OK with that. Tim Cook can eulogize Apple corporate values all he wants to at the Apple Event, but I don’t believe a word of it anymore. Enough words Mr. Cook, I’ll believe in honest action when I see it. Car manufacturers do recalls of defective products, why not Apple if they love their customers so much?

Steve Jobs, for all his complex conflicting qualities, had the guts to stand up in front of everybody to explain the iPhone 4 Anntenagate debacle, or at least try to, and do something about it. Does Tim Cook have the same kind of leadership guts and values to do that?

So far he hasn’t shown us that he does.