ADAM BANKS…

go­ing deeper than a force click with mus­ings ON the world of ap­ple

Mac Format - - APPLE CORE -

There’s no doubt Tim Cook is a dif­fer­ent kind of boss than Steve Jobs. But Ap­ple’s for­tunes may now de­pend on what is out­side of it, not in­side.

It’s five years since Steve Jobs, the most leg­endary fig­ure in the his­tory of mass-mar­ket elec­tron­ics, left his glob­ally dom­i­nant com­pany in the hands of Tim Cook, who, af­ter a decade pa­tiently re­fin­ing its man­u­fac­tur­ing sup­ply chain, was known to al­most ev­ery­one as ‘Tim who?’

Back in 2011, no­body was sure if the man de­scribed by For­tune as an “op­er­a­tions whiz” and by Jobs as “not a prod­uct per­son” could es­tab­lish him­self as a true leader. To­day, it’s clear that he has; less by be­ing an op­er­a­tions whiz – although Ap­ple’s man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­ity re­mains the envy of its ri­vals, not least Samsung ‘Whoops Your Bat­tery Ex­ploded’ Elec­tron­ics Co Ltd – and more by not be­ing a prod­uct per­son.

Jobs was all about ship­ping. His ge­nius was to in­spire the mak­ing and mar­ket­ing of su­pe­rior things. Cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity – do­ing good works, up­hold­ing val­ues, pay­ing tax – never in­ter­ested him; why should a com­pany ‘give back’, when it was al­ready giv­ing peo­ple faster Macs, slim­mer phones, and clev­erer soft­ware? Cook has re­vealed a dif­fer­ent out­look. Per­haps dra­matic new prod­ucts haven’t ma­te­ri­alised un­der his stew­ard­ship (the Ap­ple Watch never looked like it would be a game changer of iPhone or iPad pro­por­tions), but greater com­mit­ment to the en­vi­ron­ment and over­seas work­ers’ rights did. Ap­ple be­came an avowed de­fender of LGBT rights, and it stood up against the sur­veil­lance state.

And then the EU or­dered Ire­land to re­claim €13bn in tax, and sud­denly Cook sounded more like a Sil­i­con Val­ley lib­er­tar­ian cas­ti­gat­ing the mis­guided forces of so­cial­ism. Was Nice Tim just a ve­neer af­ter all?

To an ex­tent, of course, yes. Ap­ple may look too rich to worry about money, but that’s not how cap­i­tal­ism works. Just as Jobs learned the harsh ne­ces­sity of keep­ing the lights on dur­ing his scrab­ble to es­tab­lish NeXT, Cook has been suf­fi­ciently bruised by ac­tivist share­hold­ers to be in no doubt where his duty lies. But there’s one cru­cial fac­tor in the tax rul­ing that epit­o­mises the shift be­tween eras: it was en­tirely out­side Ap­ple’s con­trol.

When Jobs re­turned in 1996, we won­dered what he would do. To­day, with that decade’s seem­ingly end­less boom a bit­ter me­mory, as big a ques­tion about Ap­ple is what will be done to it. A weak global re­cov­ery is strug­gling to take hold. Amer­ica, split by the most chaotic elec­toral cy­cle in its re­cent his­tory, is in tur­moil. The smart­phone mar­ket is near its peak; de­mand for com­put­ers has de­clined. Wear­ables, VR, au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles and the In­ter­net of Things are the new areas of ex­po­nen­tial growth… but not quite yet.

The first thing Cook told his col­leagues on ac­cept­ing the CEO role, six weeks be­fore Jobs’ death, was that “Ap­ple is not go­ing to change”. He was wrong: ev­ery­thing changed. In the next five years, Ap­ple needs to look out­wards, to a world where noth­ing is the same.

ABOUT ADAM BANKS

No­body was sure if Tim Cook could es­tab­lish him­self as a true leader

Adam is Ap­ple to the core, hav­ing re­ported on the world of Macs since the 1990s. As a writer, de­signer, art di­rec­tor and print pro­duc­tion con­trac­tor, he di­vides his time be­tween the North­ern Pow­er­house and the Cre­ative Cloud.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.