Former Engineer Says Tim Cook Has Turned Apple Into A ‘Boring Operations Company’

A former Apple engineer says that Tim Cook has turned Apple ‘from a dynamic change-maker into a boring operations company.’ Specifically, he says that Cook is avoiding conflict between teams, conflict that once led to the creation of the iPhone.

This is what Bob Burrough told CNBC.

“At Apple in 2007, organizationally it was the wild west,” Burrough said. “I was hired under a particular manager, but for the first two years worked on projects that had virtually nothing to do with that manager’s core responsibility. That’s because the organization wasn’t the priority, the projects were the priority. It was the exact opposite of ‘not my job.’ It was ‘I’m here to solve whatever problems I can, irrespective of my role, my title, or to whom I report.’ It was wild. But it was also very rewarding, because everything you did had maximal impact on the product.”

But today, the “dynamic has clearly and distinctly changed,” and Apple is much closer to his job at Palm, said Burrough. [At Palm,] “there was a clear sense that each person had a clear responsibility, and rarely deviated from it. When you went to someone for help solving a problem ‘not my job’ was a common response.”

Aysmco analyst Horace Dediu disagrees with Burrough, noting that invention and innovation are two separate things. Business Insider says that Dediu recently argued this case at a conference, recently.

“I think Apple management has been trying to de-emphasise the hit-driven business. That’s not to say they’re not going to have more hits, but they don’t want the company to be seen as a hits business. One of the big audiences that Tim [CEO Tim Cook] has is actually internal employee morale. I think the hit-driven mindset is demoralizing internally, and there is a concerted effort to tone down this ‘Let’s hit home runs’ mind-set.”

He instead argues that Apple is more focused on recurring revenue which will help grow Apple in the long term, instead of launching new, risky products.

Dediu estimates that Apple customers pay between 78 cents and $1 per day to stay on Apple’s devices and services […]

New product launches are risky. If they fail to move the needle – i.e. Apple Watch – then you are back where you started. But persuade the average Apple customer to buy a few more things every year, and you have moved their spending from 78 cents per day to 88 cents per day and added 10% in revenues out of nowhere: That would add $22 billion to Apple’s topline sales, annually.

iPod godfather Tony Fadell disagrees that Apple ran on conflict under Steve Jobs.

Wrong!!! There was never a competition. We, together, were searching for the best solution. Steve asked us to test all the possibilities…

— Tony Fadell (@tfadell) January 11, 2017

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