A look at Tim Cook’s first two years as Apple’s CEO

By , Aug 24, 2013

WWDC 2012 keynote (Tim Cook 001)

Two years ago today, to the date, Tim Cook officially took over the reigns as Apple’s CEO. Cook had long been handling the position’s day-to-day duties, and had played interim CEO on a few occasions, but on August 24, 2011, Steve stepped down and Tim stepped up.

One can only imagine what it’s like to try and take over a chief executive role for a company as big as Apple, following up someone like Steve Jobs. But Tim Cook has thus far managed to do it. Here are some of the more notable moments from his two-year tenure…

Foxconn problems

Less than 6 months after taking office, Tim Cook was confronted with a major PR problem. The New York times published a scathing article on Foxconn, Apple’s largest manufacturing partner, for its poor employee working and living conditions. While it’s true, the company had long been under scrutiny for its labor problems, this report suggested that Apple was aware of the infractions, and intentionally not doing anything about them.

tim cook foxconn

Cook reacted quickly, sending out letters to employees and the press, ensuring them that “Apple cares about every worker in its worldwide supply chain,” and is doing everything in its power to improve their working conditions. As a result, Apple opened up its supply chain to inspection by the Fair Labor Association, and recent reports say Foxconn has shown signs of improvement.

iOS 6 Maps app

In late 2012, Apple made the decision to drop Google’s Maps app in iOS 6 and replace it with its own mapping software. But it quickly found out how difficult the task was, and Tim Cook found himself in another PR fiasco. Consumers everywhere complained of missing data points, location inaccuracies and poor turn-by-turn directions. Some government agencies even started issuing warnings about the app.

apple maps

Once again, Cook reacted quickly and penned a well thought-out letter to the public, this time apologizing for Apple Maps falling short of expectations. He admitted that his team had failed to deliver “the best experience possible” to customers, and promised to put the weight of the company behind making it right. And for what it’s worth, Maps is significantly better than it was.

Apple stock crosses $700 per share

Despite the Maps debacle, Apple went on to sell its iPhone 5 in record numbers. Pre-orders for the handset crossed 2 million in the first 24 hours, and total sales topped 5 million during its opening weekend. This led to Apple’s stock crossing the $700 per share mark for the first time in the company’s history.

apple stock $700

Admittedly, at $501 and some change, AAPL has since fallen quite a bit from its peak. But at the time, crossing that $700 mark signified that Wall Street had faith in the one-year veteran and his Cupertino gang to continue their run without Steve Jobs at the helm. And without question, I think that this was a major high point for Cook.

Executive Shakeup

On October 29 of last year, Apple issued a surprising press release announcing that SVP of iOS software, Scott Forstall, would be leaving the company as part of a major executive shakeup. Forstall had been leading iOS development since the platform’s inception, and was said to be a Jobs favorite. So needless to say, this was one of Cook’s biggest moves at the time as CEO.

Scott Forstall, Tim Cook at WWDC 2012

A recent Reuters profile cites sources saying that the shakeup was a direct result of the Maps fiasco, and Cook moved quickly and decisively. He fired Forstall, and handed off Maps to Eddy Cue, design to Jony Ive, and the iOS team to Craig Federighi. We don’t yet know how effective the reorganization has been, or will be, but we should get a better idea this fall.

iPad mini launch

Even though Apple has been making tablets since 2010, it didn’t start offering a 7.9-inch version until late last year. In November of 2012 Apple launched the iPad mini, and by all counts it’s been a resounding success. Even without a Retina display, most analysts believe it’s outselling the larger iPad by a significant margin.

iPad mini (image 007)

While Tim Cook might not be the visionary that Steve Jobs was, he still has to sign off on new products. And his thumbs up or thumbs down can have a huge impact on not only Apple’s profits, but its brand image and investor relations as well. Here, he made the right call in green-lighting the iPad mini, making his first new product launch as CEO a success.

So as you can see, Cook has overseen some major issues, changes and product launches (and many more we didn’t list) at Apple in the last two years, and has managed to keep the ship steady. Sure, APPL has slid 200 points from its peak, but it’s also moving upward right now, and has gained more than 100 points in the last two months.

But the next two years will really show Cook’s abilities. Apple has a big fall of product refreshes coming up, and there is said to be a number of all-new products—iTV, iWatch, etc.—in the pipeline. And he has to preside over all of this with investors and, from what we’ve been hearing, Apple’s board breathing down his neck, calling for more “innovation.” It’ll be interesting to see how he responds to the added pressure. So far, I think he’s done a great job.

What do you think?

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  • abdullah575

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  • Japheth Mast

    Cook isn’t any Steve Jobs, but he shouldn’t try to be either. I think he’s done a fine job at Apple these last two years. Here’s to the next two being just as successful!

    • http://us.playstation.com/ps4 Mark Cerny

      Hope the iWatch changes that.

      • Ryan

        lol fake Mark Cerny account?

    • Abhinav

      Yeah, no one can replace Steve.

      • mehrab

        Not even chuck norris

  • JimGramze

    So long as Jonny Ive is head of design and others do what they do, let Tim Cook take heat from the press and continue managing the beans. A marvelous “machine” is in place. The new Logic Pro X is nothing short of amazing and I hope I can afford a decent version of the upcoming Mac Pro. It is a great time to be an Apple user. Bring on Mavericks and iOS 7, both have features I expect to love.

    Apple tends to annual product cycles, so let’s measure their progress and their competition from that perspective. There are a slew of releases all around aimed at the holiday season. Maybe each New Year is the time to take a regular accounting and comparison.

    • John

      Very well said Jim.

  • Joseph A. Ahmad

    So far, he’s done a very good job, but the major critiques (I think) will come this Fall into early next year when we see some new products from Apple. How they are built, what they offer, and how they utilize the new software (OS X Mavericks and iOS 7) will ultimately be the deciding factor. The competition is heating up and I’m confident in Apple.

  • Dante Arellano

    Ive is the key no the stupidd puppet.

  • laszlo gaspar

    I don’t know if anyone would agree with me on this but i would have liked to have seen Scott Forstall take over but we all know that wont be happening anytime soon. My reason for him being CEO is i liked his charisma.

  • Ted Forbes

    Whats new at Apple? Only Tim Cook.

  • Ted Forbes

    Don’t get me wrong, Apple is the only devices of its kind for me. But still I call things what they are, a grass blade a grass and a knife blade a knife.

    The mobile phone makers were sucking us all for years one feature at a time sucking us every year for every dollar with puny innovations. Apple “beat um all to the market” and gave us all and everything at once that would have otherwise taken decades to get out of Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, Blackberry, etc. Who could not be grateful for this?

    And for that I pledge my loyalty and appreciation to Apple. In fact I can not imagine life without Apple cant say that for the rest. But still I call things what they are, a grass blade a grass and a knife blade a knife… Tim Cook is yet to come up with something that we cant live without.

  • GuyBey0ndC00L

    I feel Steve Jobs (RIP) was more of a fighter learn over time how opening up helping him and Apple get to were they are to today. Joining up with companies and partners that change the Mobile / PC space that we see today . Tim Cook is just the opposite. He more like an open book learning how to fight, getting dirty, and shaking things up. Owning up to his and other Apple Employees mistakes of the past and still learning. Its only been 2 years, its too early to judge. In my book he’s doing a GREAT JOB!!!! TIM YOUR NOT STEVE BUT THAT’S OK I DON’T WANT YOU TO BE…