The Top Ten Moves by Apple that Steve Jobs Would Never Have Approved

Posted on June 9, 2012 by Dana Vicktor

The legacy of Steve Jobs is both Apple’s greatest asset and its greatest challenge, leaving new CEO Tim Cook to thread a difficult needle. To put it a little indelicately, Cook has to prove that Apple hasn’t lost its touch while also demonstrating that the company isn’t completely beholden to the genius of a dead man. While we haven’t seen the last of Steve Jobs’ creations — he developed a new TV concept rumored to debut later this year — he can’t keep churning out new hits, Tupac-style, indefinitely. For Cook, that means a difficult balancing act: acting as custodian of Apple’s signature spirit and strengths while also innovating and pushing the company in new directions, including directions that Jobs wouldn’t have endorsed. Below are ten of Apple’s least Jobsian recent moves.

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10. Designs that Jobs rejected are reaching the consumer

Head to the closest Apple Store and take a look at the current Apple TV set-top box. One Apple engineer claims that Jobs rejected its user interface. Yet here we are using it. (Or, well, not. The current Apple TV isn’t exactly the company’s most successful product.) Jobs’ vision may be important to Apple, but his dictates aren’t law anymore.

9. Charity

Under Cook, Apple is contributing to charities like (Project)Red and Stanford University hospitals — something that Jobs consistently opposed. Moreover, Apple has instituted a matching program for its employees’ charitable giving, up to $10,000.

8. Negotiating with the enemy

Jobs took a bitter, take-no-prisoners attitude toward Apple’s patent wars with companies like Samsung, likely prompted by his belief that former Google CEO (and former Apple board member) Eric Schmidt had betrayed him with Android, which Jobs regarded as an insultingly flimsy knock-off of the iPhone user experience. But Cook has taken a more measured stance, signaling a willingness to negotiate and settle.

7. Siri

Releasing a beta product as the flagship feature of a new iPhone model felt strikingly un-Apple-esque, especially once it became clear how unfinished the product really was. It’s not that Siri is so sloppy — but it’s hard to believe it would have met Jobs’ exacting standards.

6. Paying a dividend

Until this year, Apple hadn’t paid its stockholders a dividend since 1995, before Jobs returned to the company. Jobs preferred to dedicate every cent to research, acquisitions, and infrastructure-building, but in his first year as CEO, Cook has opened Apple’s war chest to shareholders. It’s a move that will attract a whole new set of dividend investors to the company’s stock — one totally at odds with Jobs’ school of empire-building.

5. Financial Strategy

Speaking of financial strategy, Apple announced plans to buy back stock to the tune of $10 billion — another move that Jobs opposed, and one that raises the value of shareholder stock.

4. Tackling questions about Foxconn

Jobs generally waved off concerns about labor conditions in the factories of Apple’s suppliers, but Cook has publicly acknowledged those concerns and taken some steps toward addressing them, including joining the Fair Labor Association and conducting an internal survey of working conditions in the factories of Apple’s suppliers.

3. A seven-inch iPad

Jobs was famously dismissive of the seven-inch form factor for tablets. But the Kindle Fire has proven that there’s a market for smaller, budget tablets, and rumors of a seven-inch iPad have swirled persistently for some time now. On a recent conference call, Cook described Amazon as “a different kind of competitor,” one that will “sell a lot of” Kindles. It’s hard to imagine Apple ceding turf, and while this one’s based purely on hearsay, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re looking at a seven-inch iPad within a year. Especially now that we’re getting our first glimpses at…

2. The four-inch iPhone display

Jobs was both public and emphatic in his belief that Apple had seized on the perfect size for a smartphone screen, 3.5 inches, deriding the four-inch displays of Apple’s competitors. But after multiple leaked images and videos from component supply-chain, it seems virtually certain now that the next iPhone will boast an elongated screen: the same 4 incher that Jobs openly mocked.

1. Efficiency

Efficiency sits at the same table with genius. Supply-chain executives, project managers, and MBA-wielding bureaucrats are reportedly an increasing presence in engineering meetings — precisely the sort of people that Jobs went out of his way to remove from the creative process. It’s hard to tell what this bodes for the future of the company, but it signals a shift in both Apple’s priorities and its culture. Will this shift lead to a watering down of ideas, or an opportunity for new voices within the company to make themselves heard? Only time will tell.

Also Read:

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Streamlining your Digital Life with the New iPad [Infograph]

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About Dana Vicktor

Dana Vicktor is the senior researcher and writer for duedatecalculator.org. Her most recent accomplishments include graduating from Ohio State University with a degree in communications and sociology.

Comments

  1. April Atkins says:

    Naturally Apple would have finished everything they had to finish before they even release a new product. Steve Jobs was a perfectionist and he upheld that until his very death. He wouldn’t have allowed the release of Beta applications that could ruin his company’s pride.

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