Wasn’t Tim Cook supposed to be an operational genius?

Two Apple-friendly sites rip into the company’s recent record.

From John Kheit’s Tim Cook Is a Failure at Operations, posted Friday on the MacObserver:

Operations are supposed to be what Tim Cook does best. Under Steve Jobs he was the Chief Operating Officer at Apple. And while he may have done a great job then, he is a failure at it as CEO.

There are two reasons you have to conclude he is awful at operations. First, he has failed to keep the trains (i.e., products) running on time. Secondly and almost importantly, he has placed all his operational eggs (i.e., main sources of production revenue) in one hostile, communist Chinese basket.

With regard to keeping products running on time, under Tim Cook, the MacBook Air (one of its most popular machines) was not updated in over 3 years, the Mac mini was not updated in over 4 years, and at over 5 years with still no update to the Mac Pro. The MacBook and iMac haven’t been updated in more than 1.5 years. The iPad mini hasn’t been updated in almost 2 years.

HomePods, beyond being 3 years late relative to Amazon, missed an important holiday season ceding more ground to other smart speakers. AirPods availability came late and is still constrained. AirPower was announced in 2017 and is still vapor.

There’s lots more in the MacObserver piece. From MacDailyNews, which spotted it:

Under Tim Cook, Apple’s track record of keeping products running on time is laughable.

My take: Two Apple friendly sites, but with “Mac” in their name.


  1. David Emery said:

    Bffftttt…. There’s a difference between delivery of a completed design and the decision to release that design.

    Lags in updates to machines definitely are frustrating to the user community, but that is not necessarily due to production problems. One counter argument is “there’s not enough new stuff to make changing the production lines worthwhile.”

    We’re seeing some criticisms of Apple for the annual iPhone release, arguing “the new phones don’t have sufficiently compelling new features to justify the release.” That strikes me as the opposite complaint to the one here about delays in Mac releases.

    I do agree that Apple has not invested enough in Mac innovation, particularly outside of the laptop line. That doesn’t mean it’s an operational/logistics failure.

    January 13, 2019
  2. Gregg Thurman said:

    MacDailyNews is an aggregator that just regurgitates others’ content. You can expect nothing newsworthy from them.

    TMO used to host one of the better Mac forums, but then changed the look of their forum site and literally told its members to fuck off when they complained. The “look” was almost unreadable. Their was a mass exodus from that forum (source of majority of click views) and TMO struggled financially for some time.

    That was several years ago and TMO is still trying to regain its past glory.

    Neither site is worthy of reader eyeballs.

    January 13, 2019
    • Alan Birnbaum said:

      Sadly but true, you get what you ‘pay’ for !

      January 13, 2019
    • George Ewonus said:

      True, Gregg. Used to belong to TMO many years ago until the ‘new’ site. This is not the first time it has aired gripes about Mac updates. It’s pretty much a recurring theme with TMO – yawn!

      January 13, 2019
  3. David Drinkwater said:

    New Product Development is not the same as Operations. Clearly our authors are not in high tech manufacturing.

    Operations is the timely delivery of released Product. NPD/I is the development and introduction of new products. In Operations, you do the same thing again and again, ever more quickly and more precisely (continuous improvement). In NPD/I you do new things and develop new ways to do them – until you can do them repeatable, reliably, and precisely.

    Totally different activities.

    January 13, 2019
  4. From an e-mail that came over the transom:

    “Obviously John Kheit hasn’t a clue what the term “operations” means in a modern business. What he seems concerned about on one side would more properly be called product development. From the way that Steve Jobs left Apple organized, one should seriously question if that’s under Tim Cook’s control.

    “The comments about concentration of manufacturing do in my opinion have some validity but not nearly as much as he seems to think. What he’s really talking about is largely final assembly, and one can make some argument that Apple is overly concentrated in China.

    “Unfortunately, it’s not a simple decision either way for economies of scale also come into play. Is Mr. Kheit prepared to pay more for a product manufactured in the US? I suspect not.”

    January 14, 2019
  5. Kathy Corby said:

    First: let me establish my AAPL chops, lest I be thought a mere armchair quarterback without skin in the game: long North of half a million bucks worth of Apple shares as well as lots of LEAPs. Apple IS my retirement. The Apple store is my place of worship and I own every consumer product that it has introduced since 1998. OK.
    Aaaaand yet: there is a point here: Apple purchased and attempted to develop SIRI long before SJ died, but at this point Google assistant is more accurate, faster, and able to handle more types of queries than Siri.
    Amazon came out of left field, never having developed a successful consumer device, and left Apple in the dust with Alexa on every kitchen counter.
    I was interviewed outside of an Apple shareholder meeting in 2010 by quote hungry media, and have the satisfaction of knowing that I may have been an early adopter of the “Apple should buy Netflix” meme— what I actually said was “Apple should buy Netflix, and if it can’t buy Netflix, it should be Netflix.” Netflix was selling at $9 a share that year. And only now do we hear that content is in the making, and a subscription model is being considered?
    And lest we forget, Apple has quietly ceded the primary and secondary school markets to Google chrome, and will lose the high end creative market as well as the gamers, if it implies by its lack of MacPro updates that there has been nothing new under the sun in that area for 5 years or more.
    I applauded the huge server farms we heard about some 4-7 years ago, but it is AWS that is driving Amazon’s stock price. Could we have done what they did in the cloud?
    Hooray for the watch and the AirPods— great innovative products with a bright future, but the stock price won’t be supported by them.
    Operations, innovation, development, product introduction— by any name, whatever you want to call it, Apple is losing out to competitors that started from way behind. I like Tim, but at some point, the buck for this has to stop somewhere.

    January 14, 2019
    • Dave Ryder said:

      Hi Kathy. I think you are making some good points. As much as I love Apple I don’t want to dismiss criticisms out of hand.

      January 14, 2019
    • Richard Weathered said:

      I’m sure I read somewhere recently that “the buck stops everywhere”

      January 14, 2019

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