How Did Tim Cook Do Today? [Opinion]

How Did Tim Cook Do Today? [Opinion]

How do you follow an act like Steve Jobs, the best presenter in the business?

The answer is you can’t, and you shouldn’t even try.

Tim Cook should be given credit for that, even if his performance at the iPhone 4S launch today was subdued and low-key.

Cook speaks slowly and softly. He’s a courtly Southern gentleman. It can be a little soporific. He has none of the infectious enthusiasm that made Jobs’ keynotes so electrifying.

And he doesn’t have Jobs gift for outrageous hyperbole. Jobs would exaggerate to the point of absurdity, hyping even the most mundane feature. But it got the crowd really jazzed. You’d experience Jobs’ reality distortion field in full effect. You’d find yourself wildly clapping the ability to rotate photos in iPhoto, then afterwards, when the spell wore off, you’d wonder why you got so excited for so little.

Cook has none of this. Is he really excited about all the visitors to Apple’s new store in China? He said he was, but it didn’t come across.

There were complaints about the length of the keynote. But that always happens, even when Jobs is in charge. Everyone is impatient for the main event, the surprise ending.

Cook wasn’t helped by the substance of today’s announcement. Most Apple fans had worked themselves into a state of unrealistic expectation about the iPhone 5. Everyone wanted a brand new handset with a new design. Instead they got a console-capable chip and a camera to rival the best point-and-shoot. Pah — boring!

At least Cook didn’t try to emulate Jobs’ trademark “One More Thing.” If he’d tried to copy his old boss’s surprise ending, he’d have risked a huge flop and a harsh backlash.

Cook did it his own way: quiet, steady and a little bit dull. Never mind. Perhaps he will get more animated as time goes on. He’s shown on conference calls with Wall St. analysts that he has a quick brain and a sharp tongue. It would be great to see some of that in future keynotes.

Perhaps the biggest problem was turning over the presentation to a team of presenters. He was joined by Tim Forstall, Phil Schiller and Eddie Cue. But that has been Jobs’ practice for a while. And this is the new Apple. It’s a team effort now, not a one-man-show.

  • jtdesigns

    He barely did anything.  Can’t grade him on something the other 3 guys did on his behalf.  I think the entire event was a flop.  They should have released iOS5 today, released iCloud today and not made SIRI only available to the 4S.  Big fail in my opinion.

  • gerenm63

    Siri just plain may not work on anything less than the A5 chip. Didja think about that, Jason?

    You’re right, though, that iOS5 and iClound should have released today, assuming that everything is in readiness for them.

    But, I think the biggest mistake of the day was calling the damned phone “iPhone 4S”. There’s enough difference between the iPhone 4 and this new thing to call it “iPhone 5,” even if the case looks the same.

  • Cindon83

    He had nothing to really talk about

  • ATRX

    let down… that’s all

  • ncwthoughts

    Umm…that’s Scott Forstall, not Tim.

  • fortninety

    “Most Apple fans had worked themselves into a state of unrealistic expectation about the iPhone 5.”

    Umm… where do you think it all came from exactly?

  • Jesust1993

    how did he do? this is what i got out of it…

    Apple is in good hands.

    that’s the image i got of Tim Cook.

  • CharliK

    I think he was fabulous and made 100% correct choices from start to finish. 

    He was Tim Cook doing a presentation. Not Tim Cook doing Steve Jobs doing a presentation. Had he tried the latter he would have been bashed for it. 

    He was himself, with his own style which is very subdued. It highlights that, while he was picked and trained by Steve and Steve is still around to a strong degree, Tim Cook is his own man with his own tone. 

    Being subdued also means that the media has little about Tim Cook to talk about, putting the focus on the products. Something that was amiss with Steve Jobs and led to a lot of the issues with folks equating Jobs and the company. An error that went hand in hand with Steve doing everything which is why he started pulling other folks out on stage to help him. Tim Cook took it a step further by really letting folks come out and take ownership of their areas of work. Who better to talk about iCloud than one of the key guys that made it happen. It pushes the notion of a team of brains and not some borg collective with Steve or Tim as the only brain

  • CharliK

    “He barely did anything.  Can’t grade him on something the other 3 guys did on his behalf.”
    Tim Cook didn’t do all the work to make these things either, any more than Steve Jobs did. It is fitting since he didn’t do all the work, the design etc that he let others up on stage to talk about what they did instead of taking the glory for himself the way that Steve basically did. 

  • Gouldsc

    Given the pressure, this being his first keynote, the expectations etc. I think Tim did an excellent job.  There were some moments where he was imitating Jobs’ presentation style a bit, but overall, he did a great job under very challenging circumstances.  I think he’ll get better as time goes on.

  • Tyler

    I thought he did well. What more can you expect of him? Turning the presentation over to team leaders makes sense, without jobs it’s a team effort. I thought the slides used in the presentation was excellent, but there is one thing that is missing. The culture, that Steve provided. Too much time was spent on numbers that mean little to consumers, Steve would always use the numbers in way that we comprehended the growth of whichever product he was talking about. 
    You can tell that some of the guys are a bit to preoccupied with the numbers, and will hopefully bring the culture back to the keynote in the future, you know, WHY they ship so many units, WHY they created this product.
    All in all though they all did an excellent job (I.M.H.O)

  • shockme

    Other than SIRI, Apple didn’t have much of note in its sack today. Tim did a nice understated job. I think the other speakers went on too long and the greeting card thing was out in left field crazy.

  • Stevechavez

    I feel that Tim started a bit slow but ended on a nice strong note.  I like that he expressed the focus of what the company is about, and I really feel the same way as far as the power of the integration that Apple has with its products, and the care and attention to detail that the company has been pulling off for a while now.  This makes me one happy Apple user. :)

  • The Ajarn

    One word: too much pacing. Ok, so that was three. Is it just me or does everyone else who watches Tim Cook get either HORRIBLY dizzy, or HORRIBLY sleepy?? I mean, the guy’s been great — must have been running the entire show even during Job’s time, but the guy seriously needs to follow at least ~some~ of the basic rules in presentation — and one of them is to NOT pace so friggin’ frequently! Look the audience in the eye, single out a person here and there. KEEP THEM FOCUSED. 

About the author

Leander KahneyLeander Kahney is the editor and publisher of Cult of Mac. He is the NYT bestselling author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products; Inside Steve’s Brain; Cult of Mac; and Cult of iPod. Leander has written for Wired, MacWeek, Scientific American, and The Guardian in London. Follow Leander on Twitter @lkahney and Facebook.

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