Apple journalist Walt Mossberg looks back at the past decade of Apple and how it fared under the leadership of CEO Tim Cook.
According to a new report from The Verge‘s Walt Mossberg, Apple’s first decade post-Steve Jobs was a defining period for the Cupertino company:
How do you replace a legend like Steve Jobs and, at the same time, adapt to the slow decline of your most important, most iconic product? Those were the twin challenges Apple faced in the 2010s. Under CEO Tim Cook, the company has found some answers and flourished financially, but it hasn’t been without a few wrong turns and big changes to the very nature of its business.
In the past decade, Apple has grown huge. It’s fiscal 2019 revenues were six times the size of revenues in fiscal 2009. Its new headquarters building is larger than the Pentagon. Each of its five business segments would be a Fortune 500 company on its own.
But what about its products? Its culture?
After Steve Jobs passing, Mossberg notes that while his successor was intimately familiar with the inner workings of the Cupertino company, Cook didn’t have that close of a relationship with Apple’s former design chief, Jony Ive:
Cook, Apple’s savvy head of global operations, knew the company inside out. But he isn’t a product guy, and he lacked Jobs’ close relationship with Apple’s design wizard, Jony Ive. So he turned over most hardware and software decisions to Ive.
The pressure was on for Cook’s Apple to bring out the next beautiful, premium, innovative product to maintain Apple’s streak, its margins, and its growing ecosystem of devoted users. The big speculation back then was on reinventing the television, based on Jobs telling his biographer, Walter Isaacson, that he’d “finally cracked” the notoriously difficult category. Cook spent almost a full year hinting that Apple would do something big in TV, only to pull back when those plans didn’t crystallize.
Mossberg says that two of Apple’s products to be released were included in The Verge‘s top gadgets of the decade. “Both of these Cook-era hardware innovations made the top 10 in The Verge’s list of the 100 top gadgets of the decade,” reads the report. “In fact, Apple not only took first place, but placed a total of four products in the top 10, the only company with more than one product in that tier.”
The report also notes that while Apple is still working on new products, Cook has recently focused primarily on Apple’s services division:
Though Apple is said to be working on augmented reality glasses and some aspect of self-driving cars, Cook’s biggest forays have been into revenue-generating services, not devices. The list seems to grow every year: Apple Music, Apple Pay, Apple News Plus, an Apple credit card, Apple Arcade, and, most recently, a video streaming service called Apple TV Plus. This has put Apple into businesses that were undreamed of in the Jobs era but were considered essential to bolster its ecosystem. Most are gambles.
Despite the lack of attention to the Mac over the past decade, Mossberg still asserts that the Cupertino company is still the world’s most influential tech hardware company.
“Apple remains what it has been for many years: the single most important consumer tech hardware company, a major force not only in its industry but in society at large,” concludes the story. “And now, it is huge and rich to boot. But it’s still unclear if it can be anybody’s favorite music provider, TV network, or news service.”