Former Apple engineer: Tim Cook made Apple a 'boring operations company'

tubeexperience

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Feb 17, 2016
3,192
3,892
There's less internal conflict inside Apple — and that's not necessarily a good thing, according to one former employee.

Bob Burrough, a former Apple engineer, told CNBC that the invention of the iPhone came, in part, out of the chaos of Apple under co-founder Steve Jobs.

"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, who most recently founded a 3D printing company called Bilt It.

"Working at Palm, the teams were highly organizational, [hierarchical] and responsibilities were siloed," Burrough said. "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."

Tim Cook, who took over as Apple CEO in 2011, has made the company the richest in the world. Apple has nearly doubled its annual revenue under Cook, from $108.2 billion in 2011 to $215.7 billion in 2016. Cook has also replaced challenging leaders from the Steve Jobs era, such as Scott Forstall, who led the iOS platform used on the iPhone and iPad, but reportedly clashed with Cook and other Apple execs.

But while Apple has pumped out money, it has also faced grumbles that it's been slow to innovate in areas like self-driving cars, TV and video, and the Internet of Things. Despite introducing new products like the Apple Watch, the iPhone still makes up the vast majority of Apple's sales each year.

Entrepreneur Steve Blank has likened Cook's leadership to that of Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, who took over from Bill Gates and tripled Microsoft's sales. But under Ballmer, Microsoft missed major opportunities to retain its software dominance as companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon took the lead on mobile, search, social and cloud.

Burrough said he endorses the comparison between Ballmer and Cook. He went on a tweet storm on Tuesday where he said apple was no longer a "dynamic change-maker."

Source: http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/17/tim-cook-made-apple-boring-operations-company--former-engineer.html
 

TwoBytes

macrumors 68030
Jun 2, 2008
2,727
1,548
" because everything you did had maximal impact on the product."

Nice quote - I sense this has been lost with Apple's recent products.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
66,823
33,794
Boston
Entrepreneur Steve Blank has likened Cook's leadership to that of Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, who took over from Bill Gates and tripled Microsoft's sales. But under Ballmer, Microsoft missed major opportunities to retain its software dominance as companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon took the lead on mobile, search, social and cloud.
There was another thread here, about that comparison and I think there's many similarities. Sadly we see Apple squeezing profits out of existing products but not else is coming out of Apple - other then emojis.

Burrough said he endorses the comparison between Ballmer and Cook. He went on a tweet storm on Tuesday where he said apple was no longer a "dynamic change-maker."
I'd agree with that assessment, but you need to take an ex-employee's tweet storms seriously. Many times they have an axe to grind, yet what I see from Apple is certainly less exciting.
 

tubeexperience

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Feb 17, 2016
3,192
3,892
There was another thread here, about that comparison and I think there's many similarities. Sadly we see Apple squeezing profits out of existing products but not else is coming out of Apple - other then emojis.
I have said this before: Tim Cook is Apple's very own Steve Ballmer.

I'd agree with that assessment, but you need to take an ex-employee's tweet storms seriously. Many times they have an axe to grind, yet what I see from Apple is certainly less exciting.
It's just one more thing that validates the general sentiment.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Awesom-0

AidenShaw

macrumors P6
Feb 8, 2003
18,635
4,633
The Peninsula
Unfortunately it is reflected in the products lately.
It has nothing to do with "Think Different" at the moment.
Isn't it "thinking differently" to figure out that you can raise the average selling price of a laptop by $200 by changing to a completely new port config?

Many people need $200 worth of dongles to connect the new laptop to the devices that they own. (This is from our internal purchases - new dongles, new power bricks, new Ethernet... It might be doubled since we buy dongles for both home and office for our Apple users - they don't have to disconnect their office dongles to take them home or vice versa.)
 
  • Like
Reactions: DeepIn2U

Ulenspiegel

macrumors 68040
Nov 8, 2014
3,151
2,426
Land of Flanders and Elsewhere
Isn't it "thinking differently" to figure out that you can raise the average selling price of a laptop by $200 by changing to a completely new port config?

Many people need $200 worth of dongles to connect the new laptop to the devices that they own. (This is from our internal purchases - new dongles, new power bricks, new Ethernet... It might be doubled since we buy dongles for both home and office for our Apple users - they don't have to disconnect their office dongles to take them home or vice versa.)
You have a point, it is one kind of "Thinking Differently".
 

Apple 26.2

macrumors 6502a
Jan 1, 2011
955
173
What up, 212?!
Cook is a business administration/management type... he is not the tinkerer that Jobs, Forstall and others are. I think he was good for Apple at the time, but if Apple wants to be at the cutting edge of innovation, it's not going to get there by having him at the helm.
 

aristobrat

macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2005
12,262
1,353
Cook is a business administration/management type... he is not the tinkerer that Jobs, Forstall and others are. I think he was good for Apple at the time, but if Apple wants to be at the cutting edge of innovation, it's not going to get there by having him at the helm.
I swore I read article after article where Jobs passed the company on to Cook AND Ive. Ive specifically for products, as Jobs is quoted saying something like he felt an almost spiritual connection with him. Him being Ive, not Cook.

Sounds like "cutting edge of innovation" would fall under Ive, not Cook.
 
  • Like
Reactions: imnotthewalrus

pat500000

Suspended
Jun 3, 2015
8,523
7,512
Maybe Steve should have handed the company to Microsoft at that time before he passed. It's possible Microsoft would have updated their macs efficiently and try something new.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AidenShaw

AidenShaw

macrumors P6
Feb 8, 2003
18,635
4,633
The Peninsula
Isn't it "thinking differently" to figure out that you can raise the average selling price of a laptop by $200 by changing to a completely new port config?

Many people need $200 worth of dongles to connect the new laptop to the devices that they own. (This is from our internal purchases - new dongles, new power bricks, new Ethernet... It might be doubled since we buy dongles for both home and office for our Apple users - they don't have to disconnect their office dongles to take them home or vice versa.)
And of course, for the majority of our people who chose Lenovo laptops we get two docking stations - one for home and one for work.

I can't understand why Apple doesn't have a docking station solution. They had a half-assed one with the T-Bolt display, but that's joined Lisa and the Cube in the after-nonlife.
[doublepost=1485045990][/doublepost]
Maybe Steve should have handed the company to Microsoft at that time before he passed. It's possible Microsoft would have updated their macs efficiently and try something new.
Or at least Microsoft would have made Icloud actually work.
 

Apple 26.2

macrumors 6502a
Jan 1, 2011
955
173
What up, 212?!
I swore I read article after article where Jobs passed the company on to Cook AND Ive. Ive specifically for products, as Jobs is quoted saying something like he felt an almost spiritual connection with him. Him being Ive, not Cook.

Sounds like "cutting edge of innovation" would fall under Ive, not Cook.
I agree. We're not hearing a lot about Ive these days, so what does that say?!
 

mgauss7

macrumors regular
Apr 23, 2009
205
47
Miami
There's less internal conflict inside Apple — and that's not necessarily a good thing, according to one former employee.

Bob Burrough, a former Apple engineer, told CNBC that the invention of the iPhone came, in part, out of the chaos of Apple under co-founder Steve Jobs.

"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, who most recently founded a 3D printing company called Bilt It.

"Working at Palm, the teams were highly organizational, [hierarchical] and responsibilities were siloed," Burrough said. "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."

Tim Cook, who took over as Apple CEO in 2011, has made the company the richest in the world. Apple has nearly doubled its annual revenue under Cook, from $108.2 billion in 2011 to $215.7 billion in 2016. Cook has also replaced challenging leaders from the Steve Jobs era, such as Scott Forstall, who led the iOS platform used on the iPhone and iPad, but reportedly clashed with Cook and other Apple execs.

But while Apple has pumped out money, it has also faced grumbles that it's been slow to innovate in areas like self-driving cars, TV and video, and the Internet of Things. Despite introducing new products like the Apple Watch, the iPhone still makes up the vast majority of Apple's sales each year.

Entrepreneur Steve Blank has likened Cook's leadership to that of Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, who took over from Bill Gates and tripled Microsoft's sales. But under Ballmer, Microsoft missed major opportunities to retain its software dominance as companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon took the lead on mobile, search, social and cloud.

Burrough said he endorses the comparison between Ballmer and Cook. He went on a tweet storm on Tuesday where he said apple was no longer a "dynamic change-maker."

Source: http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/17/tim-cook-made-apple-boring-operations-company--former-engineer.html
You are 200 million dollar a year basketball man opining on politics?
You an overpaid engineer opining on MBA issues?
Let the MBAs decide on corporate strategy. You make us an iMac I don't have to restart every day cause it gets laggy and the spinning wheel.
 

JOHN PRINCE

macrumors newbie
Sep 28, 2018
8
10
USA
When Steve knew the end was near, he had perhaps the most difficult decision of his life to make: who to leave in charge.

Creatively, Jony Ive was the right guy. They shared the same passion for design. But running a very large company day to day had to be left to a numbers guy. That was Tim.

I’m positive this decision pained Steve because he knew things would never be the same. He made sure Jony was left completely independent within the company and could never be fired. That’s about all he could do.

So now we have a numbers guy running things who really wants to be a political activist. He doesn’t share Steve and Jony’s passion for design and innovation. And you generally can’t expect that from a numbers guy.

Really too bad but unavoidable.
 

I7guy

macrumors Core
Nov 30, 2013
22,966
11,099
Gotta be in it to win it
...So now we have a numbers guy running things who really wants to be a political activist. He doesn’t share Steve and Jony’s passion for design and innovation. And you generally can’t expect that from a numbers guy.

Really too bad but unavoidable.
We have a numbers guy running the company who wants corporations to step up to some humanitarian responsibilities. Tim is not an activist, he doesn’t march on picket lines.

You may not like the job he’s done, but he’s moved the Apple needle big time.
 

Michael Goff

Suspended
Jul 5, 2012
13,329
7,415
It is sad for Apple that Steve Jobs was always right except when he hand chose Tim Cook as his replacement. Is that what I’m getting here? Am I cool yet?
 

Tech198

macrumors G5
Mar 21, 2011
14,957
1,934
Australia, Perth
Apple was boring ?. Perhaps that what Apple meant by "focused"

No one went off at a tangent, lost along the way. etc.. If you get deviated along the route, how can you stay focused to your job ? Better that then, you now finding yourself underwater doing others obs as well for them "just to help them out"

I would have thought there'd be a limit.
 
Last edited:
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.