Netease Technology News on December 22, a famous columnist “Walt Mossberg” recently wrote on the technology website “The Verge” that from 2011 to 2019, Tim Cook Under the leadership of Apple, Apple has achieved substantial growth in finances, but has also made several mistakes. More importantly, the company’s business has undergone substantial changes.
The full text of the article is as follows:
Over the past decade, Apple has continued to grow. The company’s fiscal year 2019 revenue was six times that of fiscal 2009; its new headquarters is larger than the U.S. Pentagon; if the company’s five business units are separated, they can all be on the Fortune 500 Occupy a place.
But what about its products? Also, what about its corporate culture?
At the beginning of the decade, Jobs was still in power (although his health had deteriorated significantly). In January 2010, he released the iPad, the last of a series of game-changing hardware products that he launched in 1998. As soon as the iPad hit the market, there was a shortage of supply.
But a year later, Jobs took sick leave. On August 24, 2011, he resigned as CEO of Apple and died six weeks later, leaving Tim Cook as his own successor.
As Apple’s superior global operations director, Cook knows the company well. But he is not a product person, and his relationship with Apple design genius Jony Ive is not as close as Jobs. So, he delegated most of the hardware and software decisions to Ivey.
The pressure Cook faced after taking office was to launch the next beautiful, high-quality, disruptive product to maintain the company’s momentum, profitability, and growing ecosystem. At that time, the biggest guess was that Apple would “reinvent” television, based on Jobs telling his biographer Walter Isaacson that he “has finally made a breakthrough” in which product category he chose. For almost a full year, Cook had hinted that Apple would make ambitious progress in the TV field. But when those plans did not materialize, he flinched again.
In the past decade, Apple’s most memorable products are still products of the Jobs era: the redesigned MacBook Air released in 2010, and the iPhone 4 launched in the same year.
The first new product belonging to Cook is the Apple Watch, a smartwatch released in 2015. But it was not until the third generation of the Apple Watch in 2017 that Apple found the right hardware, software, and features for the product. In essence, this is a “restart” of the product.
Another major successful hardware launched by Apple under Cook’s leadership is AirPods. This wireless headset released in 2016 now seems ubiquitous and looks like white plastic earrings.
So far, Apple has not revealed to the outside world how many smartwatches and AirPods it has sold, but it is generally believed that they dominate in their respective product categories. According to Apple’s tradition, they are the envy of competitors and compete to imitate.
These two hardware innovations belonging to the Cook era have entered the top ten of the “100 Most Popular Electronic Products in the Last Decade” by The Verge. In fact, Apple’s products not only ranked first in the list, but also had four products in the top ten, and it was also the only company with more than one product in the list.
Nonetheless, these hardware successes are not comparable in impact or scale to the most successful products of the Jobs era. Even though the iPad has experienced a significant decline in annual sales compared to its heyday, in fiscal 2019, it generated revenues that were almost equivalent to Apple’s entire “wearable devices, home and accessories” category, which includes Apple Watch and AirPods.
This is not entirely Cook’s fault. Every industry will experience a flat period, and in the past ten years, no company has launched such a hot consumer electronics product as the iPhone. To say the closest, it may be Amazon’s Echo smart speaker and Alexa voice assistant, but they are not comparable to the iPhone in terms of sales or influence-at least not yet.
But Cook did take responsibility for a number of issues with the Macintosh computer over the years. The much-loved MacBook Air laptop was ignored for five years. In addition, the Mac Pro computer, beloved by professional audio, graphics, and video makers, was initially ignored and then re-released in 2013, but the focus on appearance far exceeded its features, which angered its customer base.
Some insiders believe that Cook gave Ivey-led design teams too much power, and the balance Jobs was able to achieve between designers and engineers has disappeared, at least until Ivey left Apple earlier this year.
Apple ’s design-first culture under Cook ’s rule has taken another hit on the MacBook Pro. This new laptop has a very thin body, but the keyboard is bad, and it is also equipped with a USB-C interface. This requires a very thin MacBook Pro that must be paired with Ugly hardware interface. It was only recently that on the latest MacBook Pro, Apple re-enabled the appropriate keyboard in the past and released the more market-acclaimed Mac Pro. But adapters are still part of the Apple product line experience.
Another success of Cook in the past ten years is that he cultivated the iPhone. In the process, the sales of the entire smartphone market first stabilized and then began to decline. On the iPhone, the biggest change he made occurred in 2014. Before iPhone sales fell, Apple introduced two new iPhone 6 models, which used a large screen for the first time, although it was a bit late compared to Android phones. Since then, iPhone sales have skyrocketed, and every year there is a large-screen iPhone model for consumers to choose from.
Despite this, Apple’s iPhone sales have declined, and it chose to offset this decline with higher selling prices and only used revenue to report its product line sales. And this comes from a company that once boasted that its products could achieve huge sales as soon as they hit the market.
Although Apple is said to be working on augmented reality (AR) glasses and self-driving cars, Cook’s biggest attempt is to enter revenue-generating services, not devices. The list of services Apple offers seems to grow each year: Apple Music, a music service, Apple Pay, a payment service, Apple News Plus, a credit card service, Apple credit card, a subscription service, Apple Arcade, and a recently launched video called Apple TV Plus Streaming services. This allowed Apple to enter industries that it had never dreamed of in the Jobs era, but these industries were considered to be the key to supporting its ecosystem. Most of this is a gamble.
The company is also betting heavily on protecting user privacy, trying to distinguish itself from critical technology companies such as Facebook and Google. Steve Jobs was a hawkish figure protecting user privacy, but Cook raised user privacy to a higher level in policy and rhetoric, calling privacy a “human right.” In a 2016 terrorist case in the United States, he even fought a well-known battle with the FBI to protect the iPhone’s encryption capabilities.
For many years, Apple has been the world’s most important consumer technology hardware company, not only the main force of its industry but also the main force of the entire society. Now it has become both huge and wealthy. But it’s unclear whether it can become everyone’s favorite music provider, TV network or news service, provider.