Tim Cook looks and acts like the products that his company is so famous for producing.
The full head of silvery-white hair looks like something Jony Ive, Apple’s famous lead industrial designer, could have slaved over in the engineering labs and formed from brushed aluminum in a Chinese factory. He is quiet, timid, precise, meticulous, he runs smoothly and without haste. He was chosen to take over the worlds most valuable company, by the most perfectionistic, and visionary businessman of the 21st Century. This choice was no accident.
Bob Dylan once wrote, “All I can be is me, whoever that is”. Cook has allowed Apple’s legacy of excellence, innovation, and bravery to inspire and inform his directing of the company, but not shackle it. He is not Steve, and Apple is better for it. Many of Apple’s most successful products over the last four to five years, have been ones that wouldn’t have been allowed under the old guard. Larger iPhones, smaller iPads, MacBooks with HDMI, products with gold finishes.
Apple has become more open under Cook, devoting titanic amounts of resources, both time and money, into renewable energy, funding for HIV AIDS research, marching for LGBT rights, and a huge push for equality. The world learned the kind of man Cook is, when at a recent shareholders meeting, he told a reporter, “When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don’t consider the bloody ROI.” He is a man who cares deeply about equality, fairness, and accessibility. His office is bookended by two portraits: One of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and another of Robert Kennedy. He describes them as “two civil rights leaders who put their lives on the line for what they believed in.”
Not everything has gone exactly according to plan, though. Both Maps, & Siri, as well as Apple’s most recently iOS operating system updates, have been less than well-received. Apple’s mantra used to be “It Just Works,” in reference to having software and hardware that worked together like magic. Now, with pressure to release a new update every fall, that has fallen to the wayside, in favor of an annual feature bump. And that’s just their software.
The iPhone 5C has been criticized for being made of “non-premium materials”, meaning plastic. Apple usually only uses higher quality glass, and aluminum in its designs, and a sudden shift to a cheaper housing put it in the realm of Samsung, and other competitors in terms of build quality.
But maybe, to Samsung, that comparison would have been taken more favorably. The Korean electronics giant has come under criticism, both by tech journalists and Apple in recent years, for copying Cupertino’s most popular products. Even worse, is the blatant bootlegging of design by Chinese copycat products, going so far as to recreate the aesthetic of Apple’s retail outlets
When thinking of Cook’s place in Apple’s story, I’m reminded of my upbringing as a young Catholic boy, and the “gloria” prayer. There was a verse, “He is seated at the right hand of the father…” And that to me is Tim Cook.
While Steve Jobs will always be looked at as the iconoclastic figurehead, the high priest of the computer age, Tim Cook is very much the right hand man, the man behind the legend.
– Sam Strajack