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The Apple shake-up: What it says about CEO Tim Cook
Cook purged two top executives at the company, his most emphatic decision yet to move beyond the shadow of Steve Jobs
Apple CEO Tim Cook fired two of the company's major players prompting some to think the Steve Jobs comparisons should end here.
Apple CEO Tim Cook fired two of the company's major players prompting some to think the Steve Jobs comparisons should end here.
Don Feria/Apple via Getty Images

"Now the Tim Cook era at Apple really begins," says Jessica E. Lessin at The Wall Street Journal. Cook, who succeeded the legendary Steve Jobs as the head of Apple in 2011, this week sacked two top executives: Scott Forstall, the head of Apple's mobile software division, and John Browett, who recently took over the company's hugely popular retail stores. While Browett was promoted by Cook, Forstall was an Apple veteran who "midwifed" iOS, the much-envied operating system that has become the gold standard of the smartphone universe, says Erika Morphy at Forbes. "He was close enough to Steve Jobs to be nicknamed mini-Steve." Forstall reportedly got the boot for a number of reasons, but the last straw was his refusal to join other executives in apologizing for Apple Maps, the disastrous mapping program featured on the latest version of iOS. What does the shake-up say about Cook?

1. He values smooth management over eccentric brilliance
Firing Forstall "creates a new hole in product leadership," says Lessin. He was "seen by many as the Apple executive most knowledgeable about software at a company stacked with hardware pros." But Forstall may have been too headstrong, ambitious, and downright nasty for the company to handle. After the death of Jobs, who "kept the strong personalities at Apple in check by always casting the winning vote or by having the last word," Forstall clashed frequently with other executives. Employees have "expressed relief" that Apple is now "run more smoothly than under" Jobs.

2. Cook isn't unduly loyal to his lieutenants
Cook tapped Browett, formerly an executive at the British electronics chain Dixons, to head Apple's temple-esque retail outlets, but that didn't stop Cook from booting his new employee six months later. Browett's departure "will come as a relief to many in Apple's stores," says Charles Arthur at Britain's The Guardian. He tried to implement the types of cost-cutting measures that are customary at other companies — such as cutting employee hours — but went against the grain of the Apple ethos. Browett was intent on making the stores "profit-driven — something that [employees] disliked in a culture which for 10 years had thrived on simply offering good customer service."

3. He is the undisputed leader of Apple
Cook "showed with the management shake-up that he has an iron first in reshuffling Apple's executive ranks," says Charles Cooper at CNET. "By lopping off the heads of two guys who made boneheaded moves," says Rocco Pendola at The Street, "including one who was gunning for his job, Cook showed the world who's boss."

4. But Cook is still no Steve Jobs
Cook may have come into his own as Apple's top corporate dog, but until Apple puts out a genuinely new product under his leadership, he will continue to be dwarfed by the near-mythic legacy of Jobs. "Despite a series of glitzy launch events," says Lydia DePillis at The New Republic, "Apple's just been coming out with versions of its iconic products in different sizes and higher speeds, rather than anything truly new." Cook may very well oversee "the point at which Apples goes from being the innovator nobody else could touch to being just another tech company."

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