Bloomberg: Jeff Williams is Second-Most Important Person at Apple, Operates Similar to Tim Cook

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Last month, Apple announced that Jony Ive will be leaving Apple later this year to form an independent design company, with Apple among its primary clients. In turn, Apple indicated that its operations chief Jeff Williams will spend more of his time working with its design team in their studio.


Williams has long been considered a frontrunner to succeed Tim Cook as CEO of Apple, and with his expanded design-related oversight at Apple, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman believes he is "unambiguously the second-most important person at Apple" and first in line to succeed Cook when the time comes.

In line with his calm demeanor on stage at Apple events, Gurman notes that Williams has over the years distinguished himself as a modest, disciplined, and demanding leader, much more like Cook than Steve Jobs.

From the report:
"He's the closest thing at the company to Tim Cook, and you'll get more of that," a former senior Apple executive says of Williams. "If you think Cook is doing a good job, then it's a good choice."
Williams is considered to be slightly more hands-on with product development than Cook, however, as evidenced by his leadership of the Apple Watch team since its inception. Williams is also said to attend weekly reviews of product and industrial design progress and brief Cook on the discussions.

Gurman:
Williams now oversees the development of all Apple hardware products, holding weekly meetings to gauge their progress. Although the process is formally called NPR, or New Product Review, some employees call this the "Jeff Review." During the development of the AirPods, some of them noticed that Williams continued wearing Apple's wired headphones instead of the new product. Williams wasn't yet happy with the fit of the wireless model.
The big question mark with Ive's impending departure is whether Apple will remain innovative. Critics will argue that Apple has already become complacent under Cook, and with Williams having a similar operations-focused approach, the narrative is that Apple might falter without a Jobs-era visionary.

From the report:
"One doesn't necessarily need a visionary as CEO of Apple as long as there's a visionary in the company that the CEO can work with," says Michael Gartenberg, a former Apple marketing executive. "Tim Cook had Jony Ive. The question is, with Ive gone, who is the visionary at the company that can guide the next big thing?"
Depending on how involved Ive remains with Apple through his independent design firm, that might not be a concern for several more years to come. Apple has also more than doubled its market value under Cook, so any concerns that Apple has fallen behind in the post-Jobs era are arguably overblown.

It's worth noting that there is no sign that Cook plans to step down any time soon. Williams, 56, is also less than three years younger than Cook.

Article Link: Bloomberg: Jeff Williams is Second-Most Important Person at Apple, Operates Similar to Tim Cook
 

gsurf123

macrumors regular
Jun 1, 2017
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215
The "not innovative" line is so wrong. They are not in the business of turning out new products every 6 months that are on the cutting edge. You can't make up products out of thin air nor do you want to pull a Samsung and deliver products that burn up or incomplete, untested products such as the folding phone. First to market rarely is memorable. They have turned out the best smartwatch, the best wireless EarPods, quick updates to the entire computer line and a Pro machine aimed at Pros, not just those who are not or who are dreamers. No one knows what is in the pipeline so to speculate is a waste of time. No question they were late to the smart speaker market and probably should have bought Sonos.
 

happygodavid

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May 14, 2007
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Northern Virginia
I'm taking the wait-and-see approach. For now, I just don't see a whole lot of major changes at Apple that make my everyday usage of their products a miserable experience. Sure, they're not perfect, but they never have been, even under Steve's vision. And what's the alternative? Nothing that compels me, as of today. I've poked around on Android phones, and they're fine. I'm sure I'd get used to it. I use Windows 10 regularly, and it's fine. But no one else makes an ecosystem that makes me want to jump ship. Here's hoping that the talent they hire underneath Jeff and Tim are given creative freedom to experiment and push the envelope without deviating from a generally simple product lineup. They've teetered on the edge of overcomplicating things of late, but the recent MBA and MBP updates suggest they may be reigning in whatever it was that has caused many of us to question their focus or ability to innovate. Fingers crossed, and best wishes to Jeff.
 

rpat701

macrumors regular
May 25, 2016
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The "not innovative" line is so wrong. They are not in the business of turning out new products every 6 months that are on the cutting edge. You can't make up products out of thin air nor do you want to pull a Samsung and deliver products that burn up or incomplete, untested products such as the folding phone. First to market rarely is memorable. They have turned out the best smartwatch, the best wireless EarPods, quick updates to the entire computer line and a Pro machine aimed at Pros, not just those who are not or who are dreamers. No one knows what is in the pipeline so to speculate is a waste of time. No question they were late to the smart speaker market and probably should have bought Sonos.
The products that they turn out are not on the cutting edge. Their products the last 3-4 years have been all safe bets.
 

Abazigal

macrumors G4
Jul 18, 2011
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Singapore
It's worth noting that there is no sign that Cook plans to step down any time soon. Williams, 56, is also less than three years younger than Cook.
Tim Cook will likely continue to serve as CEO for as long as he is fit and able to. Jeff Williams is there as a backup in case anything up towards happens to Tim Cook suddenly, but otherwise, he's likely not in the running for CEO anytime soon.
 
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happygodavid

macrumors regular
May 14, 2007
138
96
Northern Virginia
The "not innovative" line is so wrong. They are not in the business of turning out new products every 6 months that are on the cutting edge. You can't make up products out of thin air nor do you want to pull a Samsung and deliver products that burn up or incomplete, untested products such as the folding phone. First to market rarely is memorable. They have turned out the best smartwatch, the best wireless EarPods, quick updates to the entire computer line and a Pro machine aimed at Pros, not just those who are not or who are dreamers. No one knows what is in the pipeline so to speculate is a waste of time. No question they were late to the smart speaker market and probably should have bought Sonos.
Well said. I keep wondering: what's the next "big thing?" I have friends who have bought into the rhetoric that Apple no longer innovates, and my response is, "How many times can you reinvent the phone, tablet, watch? I mean, what else IS there?" No seriously, what else is there to reinvent? Or invent? I can see them getting into the gaming market when internet speeds are ubiquitously crazy fast (in like, 10 years; Stadia is, I submit, too early for the masses to adopt it). Or the car, or wearables...? Who the heck knows. I just see the perception of Apple losing their ability to innovate with the death of Steve Jobs (and now the departure of Ive), and I see it more as a lack of technological products that currently exist that need improving and that they're ready to tackle. Could be wrong. But when I worked at Apple Retail (left in '11), their hiring mantra was to hire the most creative people they could find. They'd skip the computer wiz for a guy/gal who was an excellent filmmaker, music producer, etc., and I have no reason to believe that mode of operation has shifted. Those are the people you want creating things, but someone like Jeff (an operations guy) has to steer the ship. Put a bunch of artists in the room, and we won't get anything done. Put a guy like Jeff over us who says, "Go make something cool; I'll make sure it appeals to regular people and actually gets manufactured." That scene has potential. Okay, enough morning coffee rambling. :)
 

Classie

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Nov 3, 2018
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Apple is such a massive company; to different from the good old days...
To think that there will ever be another Steve Jobs running the company is naive - or even believing that there will ever be someone like Steve in the world again is naive.

The most realistic thing to hope for is that Jeff loves products (both technically and visually) and will fill the part that Apple arguably has been missing the past years: Steves ability to execute and oversee development/innovation.
Jeff could be the “product guy” that Tim obviously isn’t.

The design team will definitely handle the Ive-part of designing beautiful products with great attention to detail. Ive has without a doubt built an incredible team.
 
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UK-MacAddict

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May 11, 2010
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Apple has also more than doubled its market value under Cook, so any concerns that Apple has fallen behind in the post-Jobs era are arguably overblown.​
Just because Apple doubles its market value it doesn’t mean that the products have been great during that period or that Apple has not fallen behind.

I believe Tim Cook especially in the last few years with the price hikes has really ridden his luck with the Apple faithful and how much they are willing to be taken for a ride. In my case I have loved Apple for many years and each purchase was an emotional purchase partly based on my love of the history of the company and how great Steve Jobs was in showing his genuine passion for a product he believed in. Given so much passion some misgivings have been forgiven, like the iPhone 4 antenna for example. I have continued purchasing the products through the price hikes in the Tim Cook era in hope that eventually prices would come down to a reasonable level again and that products would improve.

However I have come to realise my emotional attachment to the company and its products are waning, with Tim Cook sticking two fingers up to the consumer with absurd price hikes every year. I mean an iPhone price jump of £400 in one year (iPhone 7 to X) is absolutely absurd. The whole product line up is stale and loaded with proprietary upgrades which they also charge obscene amounts for. Jony Ive is leaving and an operations guy is being placed in charge of design, people should be worried the direction Apple is heading.

There is nobody on the leadership team at Apple that has any charisma about them, bar Craig Federighi perhaps. They are just a bunch of boring suits and I hope it doesn’t happen but eventually I believe that Apple will just be another boring company churning out run of the mill products.

The cult of Apple is officially dying.
 

Glockworkorange

macrumors 68010
Feb 10, 2015
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Chicago, Illinois
Apple is such a massive company; to different from the good old days...
To think that there will ever be another Steve Jobs running the company is naive - or even believing that there will ever be someone like Steve in the world again is naive.

The most realistic thing to hope for is that Jeff loves products (both technically and visually) and will fill the part that Apple arguably has been missing the past years: Steves ability to execute and oversee development/innovation.
Jeff could be the “product guy” that Tim obviously isn’t.

The design team will definitely handle the Ive-part of designing beautiful products with great attention to detail. Ive has without a doubt built an incredible team.
I mean, I've seen no evidence of Williams being a "product guy." This is based on his appearances during Apple events, so small size and probably not fair. BUT...

Go back and watch some of the old Jobs' product announcements. You can tell he just loves the stuff. He thinks what he's talking about is just the coolest stuff in the world. He's following a script, but he clearly doesn't need it. This is a guy who can talk all day about how cover flow is probably the greatest thing ever invented and how Apple Greeting Cards (remember those) are going to revolutionize communication. Neither of those things were accurate (although I personally miss coverflow), but it was nice to see genuine enthusiasm. Such joy.

Contrast that to the people today, including Williams. They are rushing on stage with a script, glassy eyed and there is zero evidence they love the stuff. Any excitement is manufactured and built into the script (e.g., "I can be the first to show you the amazing new TouchBar." Lol--get the **** out).

They're all terrible. Even Craig, although fun, doesn't really show that adoration for the things he's talking about. Phil neither. Cook is just a robot.
 

tomnavratil

macrumors 6502a
Oct 2, 2013
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Czech Republic
I mean, I've seen no evidence of Williams being a "product guy." This is based on his appearances during Apple events, so small size and probably not fair. BUT...

Go back and watch some of the old Jobs' product announcements. You can tell he just loves the stuff. He thinks what he's talking about is just the coolest stuff in the world. He's following a script, but he clearly doesn't need it. This is a guy who can talk all day about how cover flow is probably the greatest thing ever invented and how Apple Greeting Cards (remember those) are going to revolutionize communication. Neither of those things were accurate (although I personally miss coverflow), but it was nice to see genuine enthusiasm. Such joy.

Contrast that to the people today, including Williams. They are rushing on stage with a script, glassy eyed and there is zero evidence they love the stuff. Any excitement is manufactured and built into the script (e.g., "I can be the first to show you the amazing new TouchBar." Lol--get the **** out).

They're all terrible. Even Craig, although fun, doesn't really show that adoration for the things he's talking about. Phil neither. Cook is just a robot.
Agreed. We actually covered Steve Jobs and his presentation skills a lot in the university as he was, indeed, one of the best presenters out there.