When Tim Cook stepped on stage to unveil the iPhone 5 on Sept. 12, the manner of the unveiling illustrated how Apple has changed, and hasnt, in the year since Steve Jobs died.
Cook, as has become his pattern, left the actual product introduction to Phil Schiller, Apples long-time senior vice president of worldwide marketing, and to a nifty bit of stagecraft, as noted by DaringFireball blogger John Gruber.
When Schiller unveiled the iPhone 5, it rose from the stage floor on a smoothly-rising and rotating pedestal, pinpoint spotlights hitting the phone and only the phone, Gruber says. The rotation of the iPhone atop the pedestal was in perfect sync with the rotation of the iPhone projected on the big screen at the back of the stage. Theres no store where you buy such pedestals; Apple designed and engineered it specifically for this event. It was on stage for about a minute.
The entire event, which as Gruber notes was actually two events unveiling first the iPhone 5 and then new iPods, unfolded just as smoothly. Cook briefly gives and overview of Apple in numbers and milestones, Gruber writes, and then turns over the unveiling to Schiller, who calls on high-level specialists to talk and demo specifics. Cook closes with heartfelt coda regarding the companys ideals and goals.
Cook may lack Jobs onstage charisma and showmanship, but his approach, symbolized by that rising pedestal, in effect says heres what important: this Apple product, not me. During the two-hour event, Cook spoke for just over 10 minutes.
Bloomberg Businessweek interviewed over two dozen current and former Apple executives, employees, and partners to get a sense of how Cook is reshaping Apple. The changes, they say, are subtle but definite.
His leadership style is quite different, both internally and externally. Hes much more open, says Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in New York, quoted in the Businessweek story. I think he believes he doesnt have all the answers, so hes willing to listen to other people. Im not so sure that was the case with Steve.
[T]he company is happier and even somewhat more transparent than it was during Jobss tenure, these insiders say, according to the Businessweek story.
Cook has been more clearly present and open in conducting Apples business than has Jobs, says Benjamine Levy, a principal with Solutions Consulting, a Los Angeles IT services firm that specializes in deploying Apple products in the enterprise. Hes a longtime Apple user. He traveled to China openly, made a statement about the iOS 7 Maps issue, and [done] several other things that show a willingness to be engaged on issues that could be considered [in the past] to be private to Apple, he says.
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