Steve Jobs was a unique CEO, the likes of which we will probably never see again. He wasn’t just the CEO, he was also Apple’s chief product officer. Tim Cook hasn’t taken on that role, but that’s okay, because he doesn’t need to. Lots of people expected him to fail because he wasn’t “a product guy,” says analyst Horace Dediu. “But that’s not what he should be.”
What many may not realize is that what matters most at a mature company like Apple is not the products but rather the logistics — an efficient supply chain, distribution, finance, and marketing. And Cook has proven his talents for all of these. As a result, according to Dediu, he is the best CEO Apple has ever had.
Dediu is well aware that this sounds heretical. How could Cook be a better CEO than Steve Jobs? Jobs has been deified. He’s untouchable. He started the company and saved it. He’s responsible for some of the biggest breakthroughs in the technology industry, from the first PC (the Apple II) to the first easy-to-use PC for everyone (the Mac), and then the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad, and tons more.
But “Steve Jobs was never really a CEO,” Dediu explains. “He was always the head of product.” For a big part of his career, he was arguably a terrible CEO. He succeeded in spite of himself. He was all over the place at Apple when it first started, and the company only survived because there were other people in charge. When he returned to Apple, he was great, but the company was much smaller, and he was in crisis mode. When it settled down, he largely turned over the running of the company to Cook so he could concentrate on doing what he loved best — creating new products with Jony Ive.