One year on: Five major changes at Apple post-Steve Jobs
Thursday, October 4, 2012/
It’s been a year since Steve Jobs passed away, and Tim Cook took over as chief executive of the biggest tech company in the world – and a lot has changed.
While there have been solid improvements, with shares up more than 70% and a market cap above $US600 billion, there have also been some negative turns as well, including the latest Maps debacle.
But it seems that a year after Jobs’ death, the company has reached a new point of evolution.
According to a new profile on BusinessWeek, there have been a significant number of changes within Apple’s internal structure.
It also sheds new light on the belief that Steve Jobs’ influence will be felt in the company for some time, as it releases products that were approved under his tenure. But according to the article, the iPhone 5 was the last Apple product to get Jobs’ approval.
That means from now on, Apple is on its own.
While Apple may be beginning to change, there are a range of mutations taking place. Here are five ways Apple is changing in the post-Steve Jobs era, for either good or bad:
1. The mood is much less stressed
Steve Jobs was a notoriously harsh leader. Employees and executives could expect late-night phone calls, last-minute changes to production lines and quibbles over the tiniest details.
But under Cook’s leadership, the mood is a lot happier.
“Nevertheless, the company is happier and even somewhat more transparent than it was during Jobs’ tenure, these insiders say.”
“There are fewer frantic calls at midnight, and there’s less implicit pressure on engineers to cut short or cancel vacations in the heat of product development cycles.”
2. Meetings run a little differently – people can talk
Apple meetings were well known under Steve Jobs’ leadership for loud interruptions and insults. But Tim Cook is taking a quieter approach, preferring to listen to all the meeting attendees before announcing a decision.
“Colleagues say the Alabama-bred Cook has a frank style and a detailed knowledge of even minute operational details. Unlike Jobs, he prefers to withhold his opinion until the end of meetings, so others can give him information to process.”
It may not be as dramatic, but it’s certainly a different approach – and according to reports of the internal mood among employees, it seems to be working.
3. Internal fighting has increased
But not everything is going well. The report claims, according to employees, there’s more in-fighting between departments. That’s always been the case, but it’s a key problem for Cook.
“Because of its size and a few key personalities, there’s more organizational infighting than is healthy,” Apple 21-year veteran Brett Halle told the publication. “It needs to be brought into check.”
Apple has always kept its departments separate from one another. Keeping them in line will be tough.
4. Cook’s had to pay to keep people on board
While there hasn’t been an employee exodus like that seen at Google, employees have certainly been leaving the Apple nest – and Tim Cook has had to pay to keep them on board.
Last year, Cook gave out more than $100 million worth of stock options to keep executives on board. And earlier this year, a key person left – senior vice president Bob Mansfield. And Cook had to pay a bundle to keep him in the fold.
“According to three people familiar with the sequence of events, several senior engineers on Mansfield’s team vociferously complained to Cook about reporting to his replacement, Dan Riccio, who they felt was unprepared for the magnitude of the role.”
“In response, Cook approached Mansfield and offered him an exorbitant package of cash and stock worth around $2 million a month to stay on at Apple as an adviser and help manage the hardware engineering team.”
5. Supply kinks have been worked out
Tim Cook has always been the expert in Apple when it comes to supply, manufacturing and demand. But according to this report, now that Cook is in charge, the supply has been taken to a new level.
And that can be seen in the supply of the iPhone 5.
“The results speak for themselves,” Avadis Tevanian, Apple’s former senior vice president of software engineering, told the publication.
“I’ve seen how the sausage factory works and operationally, it’s just phenomenal. Has there ever been a product anywhere that hit these kinds of volumes in so short a time?”
As long as Apple keeps its products as slick as the supply system which delivers them, then it is likely to maintain its success.