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Apple's Tim Cook Is Trying My Patience

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When Tim Cook succeeded Steve Jobs as the chief executive officer of Apple, (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) , I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The burden of following the legendary Jobs, while promising riches beyond belief, looked like a no-win situation for Cook. His accomplishments would inevitably be traced to Jobs and Cook's failures would be a result of his own poor performance.

But now I am running out of patience with Cook.

Like much of the rest of the civilized world, I am waiting for Apple to come up with a new "wow" innovation, something that was a hallmark of the tenure of Jobs, who passed away Oct. 5, 2011. Cook has chosen to recycle existing successes.

The U.S. media suggest that Apple may announce the birth of iRadio at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10-14 in San Francisco.

But this has been described as a "Pandora-like" innovation because users can customize the music to meet their tastes.

Hmmm. Well, I can remember back during the good old days, when every tech company was scrambling to concoct an "Apple-like" product.

Maybe Cook will drop a bomb at the conference and change my perception of him. Perhaps he will ignite Apple's stock price and send it back to the stratosphere. Or maybe he will deliver a dud.

The company's stock market performance has been desultory.

And most discouraging of all, Cook can appear to be insensitive to the plight of his stockholders, as he mouths vague observations about Apple's performance and prospects.

I used to think that Cook was being shrewd and wily to keep the information close to his chest, aware that Google and other Apple rivals hang on his every word. Now, however, I wonder if Cook actually has anything to say at all. Of course, people can argue -- with a measure of reason -- that it would be foolish of Cook to say anything, in the fear that he could allow his foes to beat Apple to the next tech breakthrough.

It's also a fair point to say that Cook deserves more time than just a few years to make his mark. After all, Jobs didn't present the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad overnight.

But I'd contend that Cook is hardly a rookie at Apple -- and this kind of scrutiny, fair or not, goes with the turf of running what is widely considered the most dynamic company in Silicon Valley, if not the entire United States.

Wall Street apparently seems to wonder about that, too.

Since Cook became CEO on Aug. 24, 2011:

  • Apple is up 20%.
  • The S&P 500 is up 39%.
  • SPDR Technology Select Sector ETF is up 35%
  • Google is up 65%.

Since Cook announced a management shakeup on Oct. 29, 2012:

  • Apple is down 25%
  • The S&P 500 is up 16%
  • SPDR Technology ETF is up 10%.
  • Google is up 28%.

As The Fool's astute Evan Niu pointed out in a piece published on April 22, Cook has delivered strong fundamentals: "Last quarter was quite literally the strongest quarter Apple has ever posted in terms of revenue, net income and unit volumes for the iPhone and iPad, even if it wasn't enough for investors."

It could also be argued, however, that Cook recently squandered a golden opportunity last week to show that he and his company are on the right track. He appeared on May 28 as the main attraction at the All Things Digital conference in California. Cook could have seized the moment. Instead, he talked in vague concepts and offered his stockholders nothing in the way of assurances that they should feel good about their investments.

As I examined MarketWatch's liveblog account of Cook's comments, the word that comes to mind is "discouraging." I am not an Apple stockholder but I can imagine that Apple Nation gnashed its teeth when Cook chose not to give the slightest bit of detail to describe Apple's strategy and his own vision.

For example, when asked about Apple's formidable foes, Cook answered: "We've always had competent rivals."

Whither the future? "We have to focus on products."

What can we look forward to from Tim Cook's Apple?

"We have several game changers in us."

And how about that ever-declining stock price? It "has been frustrating."

Say, what abut the much-discussed Apple TV? It has been "very good as a learning point."

Everyone is now talking about computer wearables, such as Google Glass (or, dare I say, the prospective iWatch from Apple). What do you think, Mr. Cook? "I'm interested in a great product."

And so it went.

Maybe I expect too much. But Cook certainly has the goods. He is by all indications a laser-smart, genial, forward-thinking CEO. He keeps his cool in interviews and never allows the questioners to throw him off his game, much like a tennis player who won't be pushed to abandon his game plan.

I just wish he would tell us what's on his mind. He would help the shareholders, the company -- and, yes, himself.

Read/Post Comments (14) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2013, at 9:20 PM, jjredfish wrote:

    Tim Cook clearly stated there would be new products until fall.

    Come winter you can be impatient. Until then you are just annoying and click-baiting.

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2013, at 9:23 PM, bugnuts wrote:

    Apple is the wrong investment for you. If you think Apple needs to deliver a blockbuster new product every year, you haven't studied the history of its product introductions.

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2013, at 9:23 PM, jjredfish wrote:

    ...NO new products until fall...

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2013, at 10:02 PM, dwilh51183 wrote:


  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2013, at 10:18 PM, larryw101 wrote:

    Another Apple bashing article by a Motley nobody author. This guy obviously should be shorting the stock rather than trying to come across as an unbiased journalistic writer.

    If he's that upset with Cook, move on. Waste of my time to read.

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2013, at 10:35 PM, JHawkinTexas wrote:

    LMAO! Waste of time. Whatever happened to Motley Fool authors providing in depth company and financial analysis for investors?

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2013, at 10:47 PM, ScottAtlanta wrote:

    Jobs was a domineering, controlling maverick....

    So the people who rose up around him....indeed, his self-appointed protege....would have to be personalities that conformed to Jobs....

    Oh, I'm sure they could, in a way, a delicate way, bring up their concerns, etc. but they had to appease Jobs...he was the master.

    So...surprised that you see a lackluster CEO now? That's what he was trained to be (under Jobs).

    He couldn't even define his own wardrobe...instead imitating Jobs' black turtle neck and jeans....

    For Apple to truly flourish....board needs a new maverick....

    Full disclosure: I'm not a Jobs fan, nor a Cook fan, nor an Apple "fan."

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2013, at 11:29 PM, singaporenick wrote:

    This is a very poor article really about nothing,with nothing new to say.

    Obviously Cook is not going to announce a new product until a new product is ready,and new products don't come along every day.

    As an Apple shareholder,I actually like the way Apple does not kow-tow to the analyst community but rather goes its own way and let their products and their profitability do the talking.

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2013, at 11:40 PM, Snoopy2012 wrote:

    Only an idiot can expect a wow product every other year. Even iPhone took more than seven years to come to market. What a waste of time this article is.

  • Report this Comment On June 06, 2013, at 12:13 AM, DanManners wrote:

    John, Great article but I need to add a little info to really make the article worthwhile.

    1. What happens if Cook does not come out with anything? How many articles will be calling for his head? I will comment 5000 times calling for him to be removed. I will write letters and go to the shareholder meeting and hand out flyers.

    2. What if Cook came out with nothing new, the stock went to below $ 300 with earnings and margins falling? How many spots on CNBC, Bloomberg and Fox will discuss the man who destroyed Apple?

    3. How many children in the free world will never be named Tim Cook again?

    4. Will a gay person ever get hired as CEO again?

    5. Were Apple to close and the economy tanked, how many people will be glad they bought Samsung, the country who hates America and treats our soliders terribly? The same people who would die and have died for their freedom. Nice catch to it. How proud of Cook will we be, the American people, for how Cook added to this painful irony?

    It seems to me that Cook is lacking in empathy and really could care less what anyone things. He is smug and has showed this with his obnoxious comments. "Oh I feel your pain". I will feel his pain when books are written about what a failure he was. How colleges discuss this textbook case of how Jobs was a genius and Cook was not. I will laugh and say, "I feel his pain being the laughing stock of the corporate world." How quick things can turn around in life.

    My expectations are that Cook will come out with nothing and even if he did come out with something, how good will it be? Well he came out with the Maps app and never even had the concern to check it and see how good it was. Did he realize that the Brooklyn Bridge was showing as being collapsed? That is unreal. So I expect more problems from new items than benefits. New products are anticatalysts.

    I am afraid to see how maps is improved. Now the bridge will be in orbit around the moon. Apple has become a joke and Cook is one also.

  • Report this Comment On June 06, 2013, at 12:03 PM, Waseem80 wrote:

    Why are you getting impatient? You are not even an Apple investor.

    Patience is a virtue. If it's being tried while you sit on the sideline, maybe you shouldn't buy any stocks at all.

  • Report this Comment On June 06, 2013, at 12:11 PM, dlchase24 wrote:

    I always like seeing people complain about Apple doing what Apple has always done, tell you nothing, conform to their own rules and timeline and leaving everyone guessing. Since the author is not an Apple investor, I'm not sure why he's losing patience with Tim Cook, he has no skin in the game. Regardless, if it were Steve Jobs still in the position, he'd be saying the exact same thing. The only difference is Jobs could be a little more charismatic, Cook is more a business man than a pitch man. Worst of all is the overexuberance investors showed after Cook took control and things started well. They could only focus on the current successes instead of realizing things were likely to slow down over the year plus.

  • Report this Comment On June 06, 2013, at 2:32 PM, FoolishLonghorn wrote:

    So the theory is that Steve Jobs was some sort of product-god, who came up with great new products every year or 2. As soon as he thought of them, the magic Apple fairies would build millions of them, and they'd be for sale in a few weeks.

    The development, procurement, and manufacturing set-up times for consumer products such as the Ipad takes several years.

    If Apple started selling an Iwatch, Itelevision, or Igarbagedisposal today, it would mean that it was already well into the development cycle when Cook took over in August 2011.

    If there have been no revolutionary new products recently, the problems occurred under Jobs, not Cook.

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2013, at 9:05 AM, thechip wrote:

    What is trying my patience, is; Media and Analysts that thinks Revolutionary, New products can be hammered and shipped every year. Words are much easier to craft than products. People that write such drivel do not understand what Apple, as a company, is really about.

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