Apple Inc (Nasdaq: AAPL) reported record-breaking quarterly earnings on October 27--$51 billion in revenue and $11.1 billion net profit in what is for them the fourth fiscal quarter of 2015. According to Apple's official press release, CEO Tim Cook said, “Fiscal 2015 was Apple’s most successful year ever, with revenue growing 28% to nearly $234 billion."
Perhaps this gives hope to those who were pessimistic about Cook's ability to accomplish the near-impossible task of filling the shoes of legendary Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Jobs, one of the two cofounders of the company and widely regarded as one of the world's true visionaries, built much of his persona right into the company itself.
Steve Jobs had a rocky relationship with the company he started, at one point being fired as CEO. In true entrepreneurial fashion, didn't take his first exit from Apple lying down, and instead started a competitive computer company called NeXT, Inc. The company was eventually purchased by Apple after NeXT fell on hard times.
The goal of the NeXT acquisition was to bring Jobs back into the fold as Apple's leader. From that point, Jobs became the face of Apple all the way until he stepped down in 2011. Jobs handpicked his successor, and Tim Cook, the current CEO, stepped into power at the end of 2011.
While many people have criticized him for not running Apple like Steve Jobs would, Jobs reportedly told Cook on his death bed to "never ask himself, 'What would Steve Jobs do?'" This highlights the fact that Jobs knew the exact person he picked to replace him, and for good reason. Apple has continued its phenomenal success since Cook took over as CEO.
The first and most glaring difference is Cook's unique and different approach to management. Jobs was known as a passionate, albeit abrasive, leader and CEO who demanded perfection and excellence from his staff.
Cook, on the other hand, continues to seek to achieve excellence at Apple, but he does so with a distinctly different management style. He has made an immediate point to stress transparency and teamwork within the Apple organization. Cook tends to have a very calm demeanor, and he is much more approachable than Jobs was.
Cook inspires his employees through an open-door policy and by encouraging a collaborative environment at Apple.
Cook has some similarities to Jobs in management styles, too. While most of his management techniques are more passive than Jobs', both Cook and Jobs have kept very high expectations for the company and individual employees as CEOs of Apple.
The end result of the differing management styles is the same: massive success for Apple.
Commitment to Product Differentiation and Product Lines
Under Jobs' leadership, Apple kicked into high gear in terms of the products it released to the public. Jobs oversaw the introduction of the iMac, the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone, the App store and the iPad. This suite of products still makes up the core business of Apple.
Cook, however, has only overseen the introduction of the iPad mini, the iPad retina and the Apple Watch in his three years as CEO. However, it is worth noting that Jobs was the CEO of Apple for a much longer term than Cook's current tenure, so he had more time to implement new products.
Cook's focus on Apple's core business and his decision to pump the brakes on new products is typical of his style and ideology. While Jobs was looking to constantly innovate, Cook seeks to focus on products that are already doing very well. For example, the Apple Watch is an expansion of the iPhone, rather than an entirely new and innovative product.
Paying Investors Back
During Jobs' long tenure as the CEO of Apple, the company never paid a dividend to investors. Under the current reign of Cook, Apple paid its first cash dividend in 17 years when it paid a dividend in 2012. This dividend highlights another difference in Cook's treatment of Apple's massive cash reserves and how he views the company's relationship with its investors.