Apr 24, 2013

Controlling the Conversation

So yeah, the analyst call was yesterday and the numbers were reasonable — not spectacular, but tolerable. Then there was the announcement that there would be no new products product categories (a few people are hoping against hope that by emphasizing “categories” that new products will indeed be released at the WWDC. I doubt anything more than a maintenance release will be seen; but to be honest, he did say “categories” — rgm) until September, and the majority would be delayed until 2014.

Ouch.

Sometimes I think Cook is taking Jobs’ request not to ask “what would Steve do?” a little too close to heart. There were a few things Jobs liked doing that were generally good ideas:

The last one is a real problem for Cook, and it is something he needs to learn how to do ASAP or step aside. He has let Wall Street and the press tell the story for far too long, and his side (if ever spoken at all) is drowned out by the noise.

I worried about Cook when I first heard he was treating bloggers like first class journalists. They are not by any stretch of the imagination. The majority of their power is illusory, and any real influence is ephemeral at best. But he was hungry for positive publicity, and he was willing to mortgage the exclusivity of the Apple insider for early gains from a rabidly biased amateur reporting staff. So be it; the damage is done.

The same applies to the product channel: Cook was so desperate to prove that he was up to the task that he released all of the new products at once. It gave him some early legitimacy, but now he is paying the price for that gain.

But yesterday… you could almost hear the buttocks clench in sympathetic embarrassment. You do not admit something like that; you simply demurely state that “Apple does not provide details on unreleased products.” A standard boilerplate that has been around since 1 aj (Anno Jobui). Don’t worry about what would Steve do; but at the same time, don’t be stupid to prove your independence.

I still stand by my theory that Cook is a placeholder (a “Cookmark” if you will); that the wording of his bonus contract was not accidental. But yesterday’s debacle will most likely force the board to find a replacement sooner than later, and that means the likelihood of a poor selection is higher. Not good at all.