If you can't put sex in the title then all the world's media knows you can use Apple [AAPL] to sell the news, and that's why as the focus shifts to the fabled September 10 iPhone launch, critics are quickly migrating their poison pens to punish the man in charge of the fruity shop, CEO Tim Cook.
Cut off the head
Rest assured, Apple's critics have moved into overdrive as they await the world's most sophisticated smartphone since the last Apple iPhone; they know they're about to see flatness in the smartphone sector replaced by a purchase spike, despite the global economy; they know the company's about to change a few rules and set the bar high; they know Samsung's broken some pretty important laws in the free market book…
They don't want to talk about that.
Instead, eager to continue their capering castigations of Cupertino, they're attempting to assemble the new myth of Cook. "Apple," they mutter, cups of coffee and doughnuts in hand, "Apple needs a new CEO," they froth with more bubbles than a Starbucks Cappuccino.
"Because Apple's slowed the pace of innovation," they cry.
And we all know that's a really bad thing -- after all -- when Apple slows its innovation the headless chickens comprising so many of its competitors (well, that's an opinion) have no one to follow, emulate or -- in some cases -- blatantly imitate.
"Tim Cook should innovate, not litigate," they declare, staring at the barely functioning touchscreen on their chosen non-Apple device. "Samsung did nothing wrong," they declare, while choosing to ignore the 23 (or is it more?) judgements across courts worldwide in which judges have declared the Korean firm did just that. (Despite wrong-headed articles like this.)
"Let there be no doubt that the outcome will be a settlement under which Samsung is the net payer and faces anti-cloning restrictions. It may take time. But it will happen," wrote FossPatents.
"What's wrong with Google's decision to ship Android while its CEO was on the Apple board?" they cry, "Didn't Steve Jobs say great artists steal?"
(He did, but he also pointed out that great artists then put what they steal together to create something that’s not been done before, which is something that isn't called stealing, but enhancing. Though "great artists enhance" wouldn't have seemed much of a sound bite to the greatest marketing man since PT Barnum. Oh, and he was quoting Picasso.)
Cook's facing ignorance-driven fallout and this is becoming ever more real -- just take a look at this slice of vindictive anti-Cook rhetoric:
"A few folks consider Jobs such an egomaniac they think he named Cook CEO because he knew he couldn't handle it," writes The Street's Rocco Pendola, who then proceeds to link to a bevy of other anti-Cook articles he's penned during what seems a one man mission to malign the man.
As part of Pendola's one man mission he published yet another slice of invective this morning: "My criticism of Cook isn't that he doesn't want to innovate and do great things; it's that he's simply incapable of doing so on his own and unable to will those around him to get extraordinary things done," he writes. Pendola's entitled to his opinion, but he's wrong. He'll be shown how wrong in the coming months.
Calm before the storm
Much of this silly season CEO slamming emanates from the claim of Charlie Gasparino last week, in which he indicated his "sources" told him some on Apple's board were concerned at the speed of Apple's product releases.
Returning to Pendola, he notes that he doubts if Tim Cook is surprised at the criticism being thrown at him.
I think he's right about that.
You see, Cook's been telling us what to expect all along. In an echo of Steve Jobs, what he's saying becomes far more understandable as time moves along.
Take his famous statement that:
"From our point of view it's important that Apple not be the developer for the world. We can't take all of our energy and all of our care and finish the painting, then have someone else put their name on it. We can't have that. The worst thing in the world that can happen to you if you're an engineer that has given his life to something is for someone to rip it off and put their name to it."
He said this last year. What's happened since? Not a lot. We've seen a few product upgrades, but Apple has effectively starved "the world" of new ideas, even while it makes its biggest investments yet in research and development.
I suspect Cook's approach to dealing with Apple's imitative competitors has been to simply cut them loose from the mother ship. Deprived of fresh ideas to be inspired by, isn't it rather telling that all competitors seem to have been able to come up with are market arguments based on display size?
That's not innovation. That's just bigger screens. Meh.
Follow the money
I'm saying that it's time to ignore the anti-Cook scuttlebutt, because that's what it is. If I'm correct in the assumptions I'm making here -- that Apple has spent billions on r&d in order to pull together the pieces it needs for a major innovation assault beginning this Fall, then it's not going to be too long until we see some upside to the story.
Cook knows he's under pressure. Heck, the entire company knows it's under pressure. Just how hard to you think they're working in the research labs? The company has planned a consecutive series of hammer blows with which it hopes to blast its way back into ascendancy.
A word of warning, of course, based mainly on almost two decades watching this company: don't be too surprised if those blows start soft and then build up incrementally as each new product/service within the future ecosystem is released.
Hasn't Cook talked about how each innovation at Apple is built on those that took place before?
The attempt to cast Apple around the personality of its new CEO is misguided, of course. Under Tim Cook, the company is about team work and product design -- to a degree, lack of collaboration is why the Scott Forstall had to leave the company.
Whatever we see on September 10 isn't the end of a story, but the beginning of a new chapter. It will be interesting to see how Apple's plans unfold across the coming 18-months.
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