For their part, most Apple employees seem more than satisfied with Cook. He often sits down randomly with employees in the cafeteria at lunchtime, whereas Jobs typically dined with design chief Jonathan Ive. It is a small difference that speaks volumes about how employees can expect to interact with their CEO. At Apple, Jobs was simultaneously revered, loved, and feared. Cook clearly is a demanding boss, but he’s not scary. He’s well-respected, but not worshiped. As Apple enters a complex new phase of its corporate history, perhaps it doesn’t need a god as CEO but a mere mortal who understands how to get the job done.
Cook is friendlier than Jobs was to investors and government. And, as befits a man who got his bones at Apple by miraculous supply chain management, Cook literally gives operations executives a seat at the table when planning new products, something that would have been abhorrent to Jobs.
Several questions: The big one of course is whether Apple will continue to be a miracle factory? We’re not going to know for three years or so. Until then, all of Apple’s new products will have had Jobs’s hand on them in at least the early stages of development.
Will Apple be more enterprise-friendly? They’ve been taking big steps in that direction in recent years, with Exchange support and so forth, but there’s still a lot of work to be done if Apple wants to aggressively court corporate IT.
Also, is there some miracle product coming this year? This is the second time this week I’ve seen Apple executives hinting at something huge — maybe Apple’s biggest product yet — just around the corner. This could simply be marketing boasting. But then again it might be really coming. It’s hard to see the rumored Apple TV as being that revolutionary product. Even if it’s light-years ahead of every TV on the market, at the end of the day it’ll still just be a dumb box that people watch Celebrity Apprentice on.