Apple CEO Tim Cook – what to think

Post-Steve Jobs, did Tim Cook recapture some of the former Apple CEO’s charismatic presentation style?

Tim Cook – Apple's new(ish) CEO is recovering from dividing the masses with an iPhone 4S. But how did The Man Who Isn't Steve Jobs do at wowing the Apple faithful?

So… how did he do, then?

Er, okay, considering.

What do you mean “considering”?

Considering that Tim Cook was never going to deliver on the hype, short of announcing a handset that halved the budget deficits of Greece, Italy and Spain. And also considering that – like it or not – he was filling the shoes of a man who reinvented not just Apple, but the relationship people have with technology.

Oh. But did he say “Boom”?

No. But he did say “gorgeous” and “amazing” and “momentum”, all words that you would expect from an Apple exec. “Boom” will remain a Jobs-ism. Tim Cook is not Bruce Forsyth – do not expect any catchphrases any time soon.

 Although we did take the trouble to make an infographic of his favourite words from last night (above).

So what should I expect?

Studiousness, coupled with a strong Deep South drawl. It's an odd combination: immaculately trimmed grey hair, well-chosen specs, and the ability to pronounce Shanghai as Shang-haaai (make sure you raise the second syllable, y'all).

If I get asked about Tim Cook, what should I say to sound clever?

A veteran of IBM and Compaq, Cook hails originally from Mobile, Alabama (hence the drawl), and is the son of a shipyard worker. This is not the first time he has been Apple's CEO – he took the Jobs seat for eight weeks back in 2004, while The Great Leader was recovering from an operation. And he earned his stripes at Apple by completely reorganising the way the company sees manufacturing (basically by closing its factories and saving a fortune).

He sounds quite, erm, organised

You mean dull? Go on, say it. Well, it depends on what you define as dull. Sure, Tim Cook would look as much at home at Microsoft as he does Apple. But Cook is said to have gently steered Apple's direction for many years – he’s no pen pusher.

So what next?

No doubt Cook has a team of media trainers analysing every millisecond of his performance last night. Were we in their shoes, we'd make a few suggestions. For one, at no time should you ever, ever look like you're praying during the announcement of your Big New Thing (and Cook seemed to hold the pose for minutes). Next, if you really love these products, don't be afraid of showing it. You don't need to leap across the stage screaming “Developers! Developers!” but you could sound happier with life.

Will that be enough?

No. When you're not on stage, you need to seriously ramp up product development if you're to see off that Android onslaught (is that a Nexus Prime we hear pulling into the station?). And you need to debug Lion, like, tomorrow (although 24 hours with the 10.7.2 update suggest that you're well on the way to fixing that one).

In conclusion?

Ignore the Android venom: Apple was always more than Steve Jobs' stage persona. If it was all hype, the products wouldn’t have sold. The fact that Tim Cook doesn't elicit whoops of adulation from the faithful is irrelevant. He’ll be judged by the speed of Apple's product evolution in the next 12 months. For all its merits, the iPhone 4S faces mightily scary challenges in the run-up to Christmas. In very blunt terms, Cook needs three wows in 12 months, and they don't need to be on stage.


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