Tim Cook doesn't "Think Different"
Ah, Steve Jobs, how we miss you.
"Think Different" was your mantra upon your return to Apple in 1997 to pull it out of it stumbling. Interestingly, at the time Apple had degenerated into offering too much. Beige box computers reigned, and we saw things like the Macintosh LC, aka the Domino's pizza box Mac. And yes, I owned one.
Steve, you came and you refined Apple's misguided division of focus and gave us breath-taking innovation. You ushered in another computer revolution (as if the first Macintosh wasn't enough!). Then you stunned the music industry with 10,000 songs in your hand. And that still wasn't all. You blew open the cellular phone industry with not only 10,000 songs in your hand, but a computer/phone in your hand that you could interact with by touch. You have forever defined pure innovation.
What would you think these days about your chosen successor's path?
Under Tim Cook's leadership, we've gotten.. more. Not different. Just more. Everything is incremental. Bigger phones. (Do we really want bigger phones?!) Face ID. Nope. Elimination of useful ports on pro model laptops. Nope. But we DO have more and "better." Just not "different."
"Think Different" has become:
And make money Apple has. Its financial prospects and health have never been better. It was the first company to cross the $700 billion valuation mark. [Source]
However, all Apple loyalists know that is the "new Apple" is different indeed.
No one will be able to say for quite a while whether the Apple Watch or new services like Apple Pay or the $3 billion acquisition of headphone maker and music service Beats last year will prove financially successful.
Of course, Apple loyalists want a financially healthy company, but we also want innovation. We want pride. We miss the days of the cheekiness of an Apple that would produce "Hey, I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" commercials that would nail the differences every time in a snarky way. It was fun being a Mac user, enduring insults about "that's not a real computer."
Today's Apple has lost its personality, its verve, its daring.
Instead, the latest product is a.. wait for it.. a credit card. Sure, it may be easier to use than everyone else's, and it will undoubtedly earn Apple a pile of cash (see the common denominator here?), but did we really want pretty graphs about where we're spending our money?
Here's some marketing slogans for you:
"We'll make your debt pretty."
"Spend different." (Just. Spend.)
At a recent commencement address at Tulane University, Cook seemed more concerned with parroting the politically correct than inspiring innovation in the next generation. His apology for his generation was an empty attempt at engendering sympathy and support as in reference to climate change he opined, "We’ve been too focused on the fight and not focused enough on progress."
This generation isn't inspired by apologies but by leadership. When we do something worthy of imitating or following, it inspires involvement and innovation.
Get ready for more not different.
Unfortunately, I am beginning to liken Tim Cook's leadership of Apple to Gil Amelio's, but with financial health. That's another story for another day. In the meantime, Apple's vaunted WWDC is coming up in June where they will announce more "next," and unless the ghost of Steve has something up his sleeve, we will see "more, better, faster, bigger" and credit cards. Not different.