Almost as soon as Steve Jobs became a household name decades ago, Apple fans loved him. They viewed Jobs as their fearless leader; someone that, in good times and bad, would find a way to help the company and best all others.
Over the years, numerous books and articles have been written on the late Jobs’ God-like status among his legion of followers. Apple fans have historically rejoiced at the very mention of his name, and whenever he took the stage to show off a new product, those folks viewed it favorably simply because their leader said it was the best product around.
To say that Jobs owned a special place in the hearts of millions might be an understatement.
But since Tim Cook took over Apple, things have been different. Apple is still cherished by its many fans, but the new CEO hasn’t quite hit the same level of iconic status as his predecessor. Whereas Jobs inspired all kinds of laudatory discussions and talk of his genius, Cook is just there. And for the most part, today’s consumers have ignored him, deciding instead to focus on Apple’s products.
Admittedly, Cook might have brought that on himself. When big products had to be announced over the years, Jobs was the person standing on stage showing it off to cameras. Nowadays, Cook is content to kick off an Apple event and close the curtain on it. Whenever products need to be shown off, he leaves that to his executives. Call it shy or a willingness to share the spotlight, but whatever the reason Cook has for not taking center stage at big announcements is hurting his notoriety.
I do believe that Apple fans like Tim Cook. After all, he’s been with the company for a long time, and he was hand-picked by Steve Jobs to lead the firm after his death. Tim Cook is also arguably the only person at Apple right now that would have been able to keep the company going in a post-Steve Jobs world. As an executive, Tim Cook is really one of the best in the industry.
But as much as Apple fans like Tim Cook, I don’t think they love Tim Cook. To many Apple fans, Cook is simply the person that is able to rein in Apple’s executives and handle the company’s many moving parts. Cook isn’t a visionary to many Apple fans; he’s the typical chief executive.
Even so, I’m not sure it really matters that Cook isn’t loved. Apple doesn’t need another Steve Jobs; it needs someone who can keep the company moving on the same path. And without a doubt, Cook has been able to do that.
So, perhaps love is oversold in the Apple world. Yes, Steve Jobs was successful in part because he could count on customers that would buy his products no matter what, but there was obviously more to his performance than that. And Tim Cook, despite not achieving the same level of admiration, is actually besting Jobs in terms of Apple’s financial performance.
Your customers might not love you, Tim, but guess what: that’s just fine.