Less than 24 hours after the jarring revelation that Apple’s revered leader, Steve Jobs, would be stepping down from his post as CEO, his replacement has set the stage for the beloved company’s continued growth and success.
Tim Cook, who previously served as Apple’s COO and as interim CEO during Jobs’ previous medical leaves of absence, sent a note to all Apple employees today promising them the company they knew under Steve Jobs won’t change under his leadership.
The note, originally obtained by Ars Technica, reaffirms Jobs’ commitment in his resignation letter that Apple will continue to be a successful and innovative leader in the always-competitive tech sector:
I am looking forward to the amazing opportunity of serving as CEO of the most innovative company in the world. Joining Apple was the best decision I’ve ever made and it’s been the privilege of a lifetime to work for Apple and Steve for over 13 years. I share Steve’s optimism for Apple’s bright future.
Steve has been an incredible leader and mentor to me, as well as to the entire executive team and our amazing employees. We are really looking forward to Steve’s ongoing guidance and inspiration as our Chairman.
I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change. I cherish and celebrate Apple’s unique principles and values. Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that—it is in our DNA. We are going to continue to make the best products in the world that delight our customers and make our employees incredibly proud of what they do.
I love Apple and I am looking forward to diving into my new role. All of the incredible support from the Board, the executive team and many of you has been inspiring. I am confident our best years lie ahead of us and that together we will continue to make Apple the magical place that it is.
Cook is no stranger to the tech community, often appearing alongside Steve Jobs at Apple events and giving important keynote speeches in Jobs’ absence. Cook has been a part of the Apple team since 1998, joining as Senior Vice President of Global Operations, and rising to his previously-held position of Chief Operating Officer in 2005.
Cook’s execution of supplier contract negotiations has made it virtually impossible for competing firms to deliver comparable products at a competitive price. Cook previously held executive positions at Compaq and IBM.
With Jobs remaining as Chairman, and a suite of Jobs-era products in the pipeline, Apple likely won’t even see a hiccup for the next few years. Jobs created a system of excellence and creativity and instilled these values in every Apple employee, and Tim Cook will continue to execute Apple’s mission of innovation and growth. Investors and insiders are confident in Cook’s ability to lead – Apple stock is down just 1 percent through midday trading Thursday.
Remember when having a Tamagachi, the rarest Beanie Baby, or a new Furby made you (or your child) the coolest kid in class? These products sold millions of units in the 1990s, making them among the best-selling toys of all time. Like many toys, however, these products were flashes in the pan. They experienced rapid, exponential sales growth, and retailers often sold out of the newest editions during the holiday seasons. Today, one would be lucky to get $20 for a blue elephant doll that sold for over $1,000 a decade ago. So how can businesses prevent their products from becoming fads?
While some would enjoy the dramatic boom in sales that a fad product provides, most companies would prefer that their products experience long-term, sustainable life cycles. Recent superstar products like the Apple’s iPhone and Amazon’s Kindle are experiencing record growth in sales and market shares, but don’t expect them to fade into the back of our minds any time soon. These products are sustainable not just for their inherent value and exceptional functionality, but because of the way their respective companies manage their brands with calculated precision.
Every product goes through four life-cycle stages: introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. The iPhone and Kindle, though they have been on the market for a few years, are products still in the growth stage. Sales and profits are still increasing and are not likely to peak anytime soon. This is a direct result of the mastery with which the brands of these two products have been crafted.
Apple has become more than a company that produces well-functioning products, it has become a lifestyle for thousands of individuals across the world. Apple’s brand has become a living creature, growing upon itself, capitalizing on its status as a pop-culture icon. Walk through your office park or college campus and count the number of white earbud headphones, which have become a signature symbol of Apple’s widespread reach. By creating a product that consumers perceive to express a lifestyle and personality, Apple has infiltrated the often impenetrable barrier to an individual’s methods self-expression. The affiliation and personal identification that is fostered by this implementation has made Apple one of the most influential brands on the planet.
From the sleek, modern packaging of the products to the energetic, colorful and expressive commercials, Apple has created the perception that owning an Apple product grants you access to a unique group of individuals that live ahead of the traditional culture. The company explicitly addressed this notion in their anti-PC commercials that portrayed the Mac Guy as a hip, relaxed and easy-going “dude”, while Microsoft’s PC Guy faltered as a goofy, antiquated and bumbling laggard.
It is important to recognize these actions are not done lazily, and these reactions are not simply a result of Apple’s good fortune. These actions and reactions are the result of years of research, thousands of man-hours of creative planning and carefully calculated execution of these strategies. The same concept can be applied to nearly every product or service; by constantly updating, expanding, and enhancing a brand image, products can avoid becoming fads and services can become indispensable aspects of consumers’ lives. The best products and most widely used services did not end up that way by chance, but instead enjoy their dominant status as a direct consequence of dedicated strategic maintenance and persistent product innovation.