Choosing to back up his argument with passages from a dusty 65-year-old tome, Forrester CEO George Colony has written a controversial blog post provocatively titled “Apple = Sony” in which he argues that now that Steve Jobs is dead, Apple is coasting on fumes and will begin its inevitable decline within the next two to four years.
The gist? “when Steve Jobs departed, he took three things with him,” says Colony. “1) [A] singular charismatic leadership that bound the company together and elicited extraordinary performance from its people; 2) the ability to take big risks, and 3) an unparalleled ability to envision and design products.”
Much of Colony’s argument comes down to this assertion: there is no longer a “singular charismatic leader” at Apple. when it comes to reality distortion fields, Tim Cook may be no Steve Jobs, but much of what Colony says about the vacuum of leadership at Cupertino is completely untrue. In fact, Apple’s arguably in better shape now than it ever was when Jobs was at the helm.
Colony claims that when Jobs died, Apple merely “chose a proven and competent executive to succeed [him]” instead of the “special, magical individual” it needed.
It’s an easy bet to say that Apple will eventually decline in the post-Jobs era, which effectively stretches from Oct. 6, 2011 to infinity.
That’s disingenuous. it wasn’t just Apple’s board of directors who chose Tim Cook as Apple’s new CEO, it was Steve Jobs himself who recommended Cook for the job. and it was precisely because Cook is a “special, magical person” that Jobs groomed him to be his successor.
True, Cook can sometimes come across a little boring compared to the fiery, idiosyncratic Jobs. but Cook has the mojo to be the once and future king.
Much of Apple’s success over the last 10 years can be directly attributed to Cook, particularly in the way the soft-spoken Alabaman pieced together Apple’s supply chain into a fierce weapon the company can use to undercut its competition, dominate resources, ship devices at unprecedented volumes and deliver products that are literally a year ahead of its competitors … all while taking in bigger profits than literally any other force in the industry.
Time and time again over the past decade, Tim Cook has proven himself to be a leader who can, as Colony writes, bind Apple together and elicit extraordinary performance from its employees. and largely thanks to Cook’s incredible supply chain acumen, Apple has put together a war chest of money in the bank that gives the company more leeway than anyone to take extraordinary risks.
But Tim Cook is only part of the equation.
Colony also claims in his post that Apple is now missing an “unparalleled” visionary to design and create its products. such a claim is patently absurd. Apple’s design chief Sir Jonathan Ive — the man Steve Jobs once called his “spiritual partner” and the genius behind Apple’s iconic aesthetic and design language — is still working at Apple. More importantly, as Jobs bragged to his biographer, Jony Ive has just as much operational power at Apple as Tim Cook himself. Cook is only nominally Ive’s boss: In reality, thanks to Steve, they’re equals.
Colony’s right in that Apple no longer has a “singular charismatic leader” now that Jobs is gone. Instead, it has two: Tim Cook and Jonathan Ive, Steve Jobs’ chosen successors, whose talents and skills in leading Apple to greatness have been proven again and again over the last decade. but even that’s not where it ends, as it’s a matter of record that Jobs spent much of his time over the last five years of his life putting together a program to impart the DNA of what makes Apple and its products great to whole new generation of executives.
Since Jobs died in October, Apple has released two major new products, the iPhone 4S and third-gen iPad. it has unveiled a new operating system, OS X Mountain Lion. it has gone to unprecedented lengths to empower workers in its supply chain and improve their pay and quality of life. its stock has surged by 61 percent. it has become the world’s most valuable public company. it has had its two most profitable quarters ever. This is coasting?
It’s an easy bet to say that Apple will eventually decline in the post-Jobs era, which effectively stretches from Oct. 6, 2011 to infinity. Likewise, the sun may one morning fail to rise in the east. but Colony’s more immediate predictions of Apple’s demise are stupid and wrong-headed.
Steve Jobs planned the future of Apple well. This is only the beginning.