Thursday, June 21, 2012

Replacing the boss is always a difficult task. When said boss happens to be the late Steve Jobs, the Thomas Edison of our generation, the task becomes inexplicably more difficult. Apple CEO Tim Cook has held his own after taking the helm of the world's biggest company, but some still attribute the steady pace of Apple's profits to Jobs' foresight. Regardless of where you attribute Apple's success, Tim Cook has been the permanent CEO for nine months and three major product launches, which means it's time for a review.

Record revenue

Tim Cook is doing extremely well in this regard. Apple has continued to pull in record earnings every quarter since Cook took over as CEO. Before he was CEO, Cook was the chief operations officer, a position which laid the groundwork for Cook to maintain the neck-breaking pace at which Apple has grown.

Thanks to the increased availability of the iPhone to different carriers the iPhone 4S is available on 13 carriers in the United States and the rapid growth of the iPad, revenues have grown at a substantial rate over the last two years. In fact, the iPhone and iPad count for 72% of Apple's total revenue. After selling more than a combined 52 million iPads and iPhones during the holiday season and having enough cash on hand to buy Comcast and Sprint with $30 billion left in the bank, revenue growth under Tim Cook seems to be going in the right direction.

Product development on track

It's hard to say what effect Cook has had on Apple's current product lineup. As COO, Cook was very hands-off when it came to developing products, and there is no indication this has changed. With hand-selected hardware and software executives by his predecessor Steve Jobs (Sir Jonathan Ive and Scott Forstall, respectively) and an undoubtedly brilliant product road map constructed by Jobs before his passing, Cook has the familiar task of executing the already established game plan.

It remains to be seen how Cook will handle major product decisions without previous guidance, as it is believed the next iPhone was the last product Jobs worked on.

Maintaining confidence

One of the major advantages Steve Jobs had over just about every other CEO in the tech industry was the ability to instill a strong belief and confidence in consumers and investors that he was right. Going back to the lack of a physical keyboard on the original iPhone that many believed would be detrimental to sales, to the original iPad, a device that experts did not believe there was a substantial market for, Jobs convinced investors and the public that he knew better than you did.

These traits came into view during a new product launch, something that Tim Cook has not yet had to endure. During Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference last week, Cook enlisted his team of executives to announce the majority of new products for the upcoming year, including iOS 6 and the new Macbook Pro with Retina display. Even though no one can match Steve Jobs' talent as a presenter, most believe that Cook will be able to hold his own unveiling new products and instilling confidence in investors and consumers alike. We may find out if this is true soon enough, as Apple is expected to release a smart TV in the near future.