Who's Tim Cook?

Who's Tim Cook?
The end of an era inevitably marks a new one. Apple's CEO, founder and spiritual guide Steve Jobs resigned yesterday afternoon, 35 years after he set up shop together with Steve Wozniak, passing the torch to current COO Tim Cook.

Not that Steve had much other choice - another likely candidate - Ron Johnson, Apple's former retail guru - left for J.C. Penny, while the design whiz Jonathan Ive was rumored to need relocation. Neither Ron, nor Jonathan, or anyone else of Apple's executives, possess the breadth of reach into every aspect of Apple's existence that Steve Jobs and Tim Cook have.

But who exactly is this Tim Cook guy, taking over what is now the most powerful tech company? His character, background and vision all of a sudden became extremely important for the Apple way, despite that SJ will reportedly remain involved in strategic planning and decision-making.

To start off we'd just remind you that Apple only became the richest and most influential tech company in the last few years, since the iPhone inception. A capacitive touchscreen was demoed to Steve Jobs, destined for the creation of his dream computer without a physical keyboard, or what are now tablets. SJ said in an interview that he immediately thought kinetic scrolling and finger gestures are ideal for a phone without buttons, and put the iPad project on the backburner for a year or two.

The day-to-day grind, however, belonged to Tim Cook, who was the Chief Operating Officer, a title which means that he had been the most involved person in each and every strategic and operational decision Apple has made during the period in which it became the company with the largest market cap in the world.

Timothy "Tim" D. Cook is a slender, 50 year old native of Robertsdale, Alabama, where he grew up in a good old-fashioned American family of a shipyard worker and a homemaker. Schooled in Industrial Design at Auburn University, and obtaining an MBA from Duke makes him a techie with business acumen, the perfect Silicon Valley fit.

And indeed, before joining Apple in 1998, Tim Cook worked at IBM for 12 years as director of North American Fulfillment, then moved on to be COO at a smaller computer reseller Intelligent Electronics, and had a six months stint at Compaq as VP of Corporate Materials, where he was noticed by Steve Jobs and poached for Apple's Senior VP of Worldwide Operations.

So far, so good, but what might be the exemplary feats that Steve Jobs noticed to name him his successor? Referred to as "the genius behind Steve Jobs" and "the most powerful gay man in the Silicon Valley", Tim Cook might not be behind the touchscreen phone idea, but he is the one behind Apple's insane profit margins and attention to detail in execution.

First off, he has been visionary enough to streamline the supply and logistics chain of Apple immediately after being hired, making it the state-of-the-art operation it is now, Walmart-style. He got Apple out of the low-margin electronics manufacturing business, closed capital-intensive factories and warehouses and outsourced production, leaving Apple focused on ideas, innovation and execution. Let's not forget that his previous employer IBM just noticed in 2004 that there is no money in hardware, but rather in software, services and user experience, and sold its PC division to the Chinese from Lenovo, something that the other stalwart HP is just intending to do now.

Alright, he is good at cost-cutting and running a slender operation, but what hints do we have about Tim Cook's non-pragmatic qualities, besides the fact that he is gay, which stereotypically should entail traits like a healthy dose of imagination, attention to detail, and a taste for the finer things in life - we just described most of Apple's gadgets and software, so on that front we think Apple is safe. Tim Cook himself has mentioned at events that his main guidance is his intuition, but has been quick to remind that after that comes planning and hard work.

Digging further into personal traits, we find out that he is a workaholic, sending emails at 4:30am to prepare for the executive morning meeting, while most of his free time is spent in the gym as he is a fitness maniac, biking, or hiking in various national parks around the country. To top off the tabloid-style recap, he is a Nike person (and even sits on the company's board), who constantly eats energy bars.

Another interesting thing we are learning about him is that he's very calm, unemotional on the outside, but constantly pushing people's buttons and demanding their utmost performance. Still renting a bachelor pad in Palo Alto in 2007, he wears jeans most of the time, and doesn't flash his personal wealth in any means, or seek social recognition, but is said to be involved in many charities. We guess such asceticism might indicate an end to the invigorating keynotes that are the hallmark of Apple's product unveilings. Here is Tim Cook's commencement speech at his alma mater Auburn University in May last year to judge for yourselves. Hey, he even inserted the "one more thing" phrase, which should be patented by now, so even if he can't be Steve Jobs at product launches, he can approximate him well enough.

Some would argue that Apple doesn't need that much imagination or pizzazz any more. The company has gathered so much momentum (and money), that it just has to push forward and refine the current trends, which were actually set by itself. We'd disagree, though - Tim Cook is taking the helm at a peak time, when Apple's opponents are fully awake and aware of its plans for world domination, and are fighting back. He no longer has the hapless Nokia, Motorola or Sony to take by surprise, like a few years ago. Google's Android is gaining market share in leaps and bounds, Microsoft is taking the most drastic steps in its history with Windows 8 running on ARM-based tablets, and the giant Nokia has become its manufacturing arm for Windows Phone.

2012 will be an entirely different year for the mobile and computer businesses than the last 2-3 years, and it remains to be seen if Apple will keep its march under Tim Cook. Some are arguing that we are already seeing cracks in the company's trademark vision and flawless execution, citing iOS 5, which is arguably a patchwork of ideas borrowed from here and there, Mac OS X Lion, and the mishaps with the latest version of Final Cut Pro X. Others comment that Apple will be becoming the new Microsoft, and the lawsuits against Android are an ominous sign about it, although Apple is arguably playing a pretty old Silicon Valley game here.

Apple is undoubtedly aware about all of these issues, and the way the Steve Jobs resignation letter was presented, shows that it has a well-thought succession strategy in place. With its cash pile to near $100 billion in a few quarters, it most likely has entirely different peaks to conquer, tucked in the minutes of the strategy brainstorming sessions.

The most often cited is the TV business, which will be huge, and, considering Apple already has won the smartphone and tablet bottomline war, it only makes sense to set focus on something new and surprising. And it will be Tim Cook ushering Apple in that new era, but what will happen after the current product pipeline, conceived with SJ's guidance, runs out, is anyone's guess. Which just made 2012 and the following years all the more interesting.

Watch one of Tim Cook's most recent recorded public appearances in the Q&A session after announcing Verizon's version of the iPhone 4, which was one of his first public speaking tests after assuming the job from Steve Jobs.



1. bayhuy

Posts: 320; Member since: Jun 23, 2011

No charisma, no buy!

36. 530gemini

Posts: 2198; Member since: Sep 09, 2010

You unknown. No listen to you.

2. android_hitman unregistered

no one can replace STEVE JOBS .. i don't like apple anymore ... steve jobs is the image .. please clone him :)

4. iKingTrust

Posts: 716; Member since: Jul 27, 2011

And you point? And what do you gain?

5. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

can I ask why posts keep getting moderated for no reason? there is no profanity, no dirty slang, nothing but information. If you like the information or not it doesnt break any ToS rules... or is there a new rule about mods having to like the subject matter than I'm not aware of ??? Seriously, quit moderating posts that arent overly inflammatory.. its ridiculous.

51. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Yeah I agree, som is annoying but I don't see why his comment was moderated

60. s unregistered

didnt you know this is called the Iphonearena anything bad about apple is moderated

6. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

"citing iOS 5, which is arguably a patchwork of ideas borrowed from here and there," Look, even Phone Arena admits iOS5 is a direct rip off of android. Who is Tim Cook?? The guy that is going to hear "well your no Steve Jobs" the rest of his life.. lol.

8. bucky

Posts: 3794; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

the notification bar is a direct rip off on only. If compare those two only, android has taken everything else from IOS since android came after.

10. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

bucky, android was developed first. iOS just beat it to market. and what exactly has android ripped from iOS because there is quite a bit more than just "nofitications" (which is a huge rip) that iOS is taking from android and everyone else.

27. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

Pinch to zoom Kinetic scrolling Swipe gestures App lay out App store All of these are things that android copied from iOS. You're point that android was worked on first makes no sense. That doesn't mean once iOS came out they didn't copy what they saw.

29. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

you realize that windows and palm both have had apps years before iOS right? pinch to zoom, and kenetic scrolling absolutely, but there are more than one ways to do that. If there was a patent infringement on either of those 2 there would have been huge WINNING lawsuits on those 2 things a long time ago. no such thing has happened. the patent is more on the way they are coded than the actual end effect. you can code something 2 different ways to make it do the same thing. apple doesnt have a lock down on ALL ways to do pinch to zoom.. just their way. P2Z wasnt an original android feature. The rest of it sure was. Considering the close nature of google-android-apple at the time when everything launched there is no way to tell who actually had what first. Dont forget until android started blazing sales google-android-apple shared a very close relationship.

38. 530gemini

Posts: 2198; Member since: Sep 09, 2010

Apple made apps popular, not windows or palm, much less android. As for lawsuits for pinch to zoom, it might come very soon. Just be patient :)

42. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

gemini, do you have a memory? that was the first suit apple brought against google when it was added to android 2.0. that was the big news for a couple of months. last i remember android retained P2Z so obviously iOS didnt have too much to stand on, huh?

43. 530gemini

Posts: 2198; Member since: Sep 09, 2010

Well, just a couple of months ago, Apple was awarded several patents for touchscreen gestures on a capacitive display. So who knows, android may not be totally off the hook. If they are, then good for them.

68. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Apple made apps popular? I remember using apps on my Verizon phone before the iPhone came out.. Their app market was called Get It Now. http://news.cnet.com/Verizon-Wireless-Get-It-Now-launches/2110-1039_3-958904.html I had a regular cell phone at that. Apple didnt create the world guy, and everyone isnt imitating them. Its called evolution, progress.

73. PeterIfromsweden

Posts: 1230; Member since: Aug 03, 2011

Apps... I had apps on my old nokia n91. Had a nice game called math fish... And that phone was from 2005, long before the iphone. Or how about the palm... ? I remember playing monopoly on the palm treo back in 2003, and it also had a excelent bible reader...

37. 530gemini

Posts: 2198; Member since: Sep 09, 2010

@remix. iOS was developed first, and that is why it came out first. Android is an iOS knock off. IOS5 notification has been developed even before android came out. Apple just need to refine it. Without iOS, there won't be android.

40. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

gemini.. look at development timelines. android development started about 2 years earlier than iOS development. so no.. iOS was not developed first.

44. darth8ball

Posts: 520; Member since: Aug 02, 2011

I have to agree with you again remixfa, Android Inc. was bought by Google in 2005, Android Inc. was founded in 2003 so the Android OS is celebrating it's 8th birthday. Unless a fanboy out there can show credible evidence to iOS being developed before Oct, 2003. I would have to say Android is older. Now does that mean that Apple copied Android, no it doesn't but Steve Jobs himself said and I quote, "good artists borrow, great artists steal, and we here at Apple have been shameless with our stealing of ideas".

46. 530gemini

Posts: 2198; Member since: Sep 09, 2010

@darthball. On stealing ideas. Those weren't Steve's words. He was quoting Pablo Picasso. And of course android fanboys just love to take that qoute out of context.

49. darth8ball

Posts: 520; Member since: Aug 02, 2011

He was quoting Pablo Picasso for the purpose of saying tha at Apple that is what makes it's collection on "artists" so good. Yes he was quoting Picasso but listen to the whole interview, "we at apple are shameless about our stealing of ideas" he says it plain as day.

57. 530gemini

Posts: 2198; Member since: Sep 09, 2010

@darthball. Yes, Steve did say that in qouting Picasso and in line with Picasso's context. I guess you're not too smart to understand profound statements as such. What Steve meant was that Apple took manor or life experiences and used them to make Apple products fresh and innovative, as opposed to the "stealing" he referenced in the press release, which is literally taking a patented technology that somebody else owns. My goodness, I can't believe I had to explain that to you.

61. s unregistered

yes because steve jobs tells you that when apple copies it just borrowing experience and others is just copying ...simple as that.. all you had to say

45. 530gemini

Posts: 2198; Member since: Sep 09, 2010

@remix. iOS was derived from Mac OS, which was developed in the 80's. So yes, iOS was developed way before android.

50. darth8ball

Posts: 520; Member since: Aug 02, 2011

530gemini with all due respect I don't know how old you are or where you are from, but Apple did not invent the PC, the mp3 player, the tablet, or the smartphone. They took those products which might not have been selling and made their own version of the products. Along with the name they made for themselves with the MAC putting the Apple name on these products and making them simple enough that you didn't have to be a techie to use them produced large sales numbers. Look how popular the NFL is, are you old enough to remember the USFL? Same product different package one sells one didn't. And speaking of the NFL the AFC, was a failed experiment called the AFL merged with the NFL. I owned a phone with windows mobile before the iPhone, so I know that the iPhone was not the first "smartphone"

58. 530gemini

Posts: 2198; Member since: Sep 09, 2010

@darthball. I don't know if english is your first language. But I don't recall ever saying that Apple invented everything under the sun. So I have no clue why you would say that I have this notion that Apple invented everything. I never said that the iphone is the first smartphone either. But I would say that the iphone took all smartphones to a higher level. But of course, you probably think it was LG Prada, lol.

53. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Let's not do this whole Android was purchased in 2005 so technically it was first or whatever. Android was meant to be a new operating system to probably compete with Windows, Palm, etc etc. That doesn't mean that their devices were going to be touchscreen. It doesn't mean that they were going to have an Android market. It really doesn't mean anything. Google had over a whole year to adjust their road-map to challenge iPhone after it was released. I bet when Apple announced the iPhone, Android's development made a sharp turn (from whatever direction it was going to, we'll never know) to make an iPhone-ish/iPhone-like device. To think that the launch of iPhone had no significant on Android is not good thinking at all.

55. 530gemini

Posts: 2198; Member since: Sep 09, 2010

Apple already envisioned tablets back in the 80's. What more timeline do you want? Fact is, iOS already existed even before android was developed.

15. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Really... All I can see that someone can say Android copied iOS is icons and home screen layout. Like I posted before...icons and home screen layout doesnt make up the entire phone, OS.

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