Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Who Is Better As the CEO of Apple?

Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Who Is Better As the CEO of Apple?

In the year 1997, Apple was not much far away from bankruptcy. The company was losing money after a few terrible years. Its entire business concept appeared to be flawed. But then came Steve Jobs, back at Apple.

Having failed to make Pixar and NeXT successful as hardware companies, his arrival at Apple was not promising. But as history witnessed, it proved to be one of the greatest turnarounds in the history of business.

There were a lot of questions about Tim Cook’s role as the CEO of Apple. Even though he had previously led Apple (during Jobs’ medical absences), many people questioned his competence for the position. But with Apple’s quarterly blowout, Cook has proven that all the naysayers were wrong about him.

Whether consciously or unconsciously, Apple fans and industry analysts often draw parallels between the two CEOs. There are various arguments in favor of and against both CEOs.

But who piloted Apple most successfully? Get ready to settle this debate once and for all.

Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Who Is Better As the CEO of Apple?

Product Innovation

At Apple, Steve Jobs believed in developing “Insanely Great Products.” He would put his heart and soul into each product he created. There’s even a famous incident about Job’s obsession with perfect products. Jobs once called the employees back from their Christmas vacation because he wanted them to change the colour of the iPod Shuffle at the last moment.

Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Product Innovation - iPhone X
Image Credit: Apple

Tim Cook’s reign witnessed some of the best gadgets from Apple. In 2017, Cook, with the release of the iPhone X, revolutionised the iPhone’s design. In this venture, he followed the bold step of removing the iconic home button. Through this he made a strong statement that  nothing is sacred when it comes to embracing the future. Tim Cook delivered a streak of great products like the Apple Watch, the Airpods, Apple pencil (which proved that Steve Jobs had been wrong about the styluses), and how can one forget about the success that Apple’s services have bestowed upon the company.

Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Product Innovation - iMac

But Steve Jobs brought us the Macintosh, colorful iMac G3, the sunflower-inspired iMac G4, the iMac with aluminum design, the colorful iBook, Macbook Pro, and the Macbook Air. Not enough? The almighty iPod and its follow-ups, the revolutionary iTunes Store, the iPhone and AppStore, and finally, the iPad.

The approach of Apple under Tim Cook has been more about perfecting the already existing products.

Apple, on the other hand, has never had a higher ratio of “must-have at any costs” devices than it did under Steve Jobs.


Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Steve Jobs

Apple Failures

Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Apple Failures - Powermac G4

Even though Steve Jobs was exceptional at recognizing how technological vectors were changing, he made a lot of mistakes. The Apple Lisa,  The Apple III, the Macintosh TV, Powermac G4 cube, iMac G3’s “hockey puck” mouse, the ROKR phone with Motorola, Mobile me and the Ping social network were some of his biggest mistakes.

Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Apple's Failures: AirPower

Tim Cook’s tenure witnessed the release of Apple Maps, Siri, the widely panned U2 album giveaway, the cumbersome iPhone Smart Battery Case, highly criticized MacBooks with scissors keys mechanism, Airpower, the loathed MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, and the HomePod.

After studying all of Apple’s failures, we can say that Steve’s “high-risk, high-reward” philosophy cost him a long list of high-profile failures.


Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Tim Cook GIF

Scandals at Apple

Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Scandals at Apple - Antennagate

Under both the CEOs, Apple had its fair share of controversies. Backdated stock options, a missing iPhone 4 prototype, the so-called Antennagate scandal, complaints about Foxconn working conditions, and censorship in the App Store were all major issues for Jobs.

Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Scandals at Apple: iPhone 6 Plus Bendgate

The catastrophic Apple Maps launch, the acrimonious FBI standoff over privacy, the iPhone 6 Plus’ “Bendgate,” persistent tax evasion charges,most recently, the controversial practice of iPhone throttling, and most recently, the bout with Epic Games have all been crises for Cook.

Since Jobs’ scandals created a wilder fire than Cook’s mistakes, this one goes to Tim Cook.


Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Tim Cook GIF


Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Marketing - Privacy: That's iPhone
Image Credit: Apple

Apple, under Tim Cook’s leadership, consistently produces excellent advertisements and excellent keynotes. But Steve Jobs, on the other hand, blinded us with his marketing genius.

Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Marketing - Think Different

It was 1984 when Steve Jobs stunned the world with his George Orwell-inspired “1984” ad. What Followed were the “Think Different” (1997), “iMac Colors” (1990), the “Mission Impossible” tie-up, “Get a Mac” (2006-2009), “Silhouettes”, and “There’s an app for that” (2009) advertisements.

Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Marketing - Steve Jobs's One More Thing...

Steve Jobs is one of history’s greatest presenters. He turned product announcements into major cultural events. Jobs’ keynotes were undeniably crucial in the development of the Apple brand. 

Jobs’ marketing legacy has truly left a dent in the Universe.


Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Steve Jobs GIF


Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Who Is Better As the CEO of Apple?
Image Credit: Apple

Who faced the fiercer competition? During Steve Jobs’ reign, Apple had to face the then market giant, Microsoft. Microsoft, by its Windows licensing to any manufacturer approach, was challenging Apple’s hardware-oriented strategy in the PC market.

Soon in the smartphone market, Google came up with the same open licensing strategy as Microsoft. But despite the competition, Jobs’ Apple via its tight integration between the software and the hardware, continued booming,

Today, Apple faces the toughest competition. While juggernauts like Samsung have a huge chunk of the market, other smaller Android OEMs constantly try to undersell the iPhone.

In the PC world, the situation is more fierce. Each competing manufacturer is targeting a specific portion of the market (like Razor is targeting the high-end gaming laptops market).

Also, companies like Microsoft and Google have changed their approach and are back with much hardware-oriented strategies. Apple now has to battle harder than ever to keep its place at the front of the pack.


Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Competition - Apple Park

Wall Street Performance

Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Apple Stocks

When Steve Jobs held the reign of Apple in 1996, its market cap sat at $3 billion. In the next 15 years as the CEO, Steve Jobs multiplied Apple’s Stock Market by 116x, taking it to $347 billion. 

Under Tim Cook, Apple became the first company to hit the $2 trillion mark. Apple initiated an ambitious share buyback programme and dividend payout for investors in 2012, all under Cook’s leadership. 

Apple has consistently provided blowout quarters and continuous growth, leaving investors delighted with the company’s overall performance under Tim Cook.


Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Tim Cook GIF

Social Responsibilities

Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Who Is Better As the CEO of Apple?
Image Credit: Apple

Steve Jobs was never a big proponent of charity, the environment, or human rights causes. 

Apple’s operations are now carbon neutral, and run on 100 percent renewable energy. Under Cook’s leadership, the company as a whole is targeting to become carbon neutral by the year 2030. 

Cook also announced a $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, which began in the United States and would extend globally. Under Tim Cook, Apple has moved a significant production away from China, and constantly pushes assembly partners like Foxconn to improve labor conditions.

To tackle the problem of e-waste created by users constantly upgrading their gadgets to the latest and greatest, Cook has made strides in sustainability with recycling and trade-in programs that aim to reduce waste and reuse materials where possible.


Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Tim Cook GIF

Customer and Employee satisfaction

Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Customer Satifaction
Image Credit: Apple

You don’t achieve record sales across all of your product categories without gaining some satisfied return consumers. 

Consumer satisfaction among users of PCs, smartphones, and tablets has consistently ranked Apple first in surveys.Apple’s employees, as well as its customers, have a high level of loyalty. Unlike Steve Jobs, Cook has routinely excelled in employee satisfaction surveys.

People in Apple’s orbit are generally satisfied, whether they’re buying or manufacturing the company’s products.


Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Tim Cook GIF

Final Thoughts

Jobs was the ideal leader for Apple during its resurgence in the 1990s and subsequent transformation into a world-beating behemoth this century.

But Tim Cook truly deserves the victory. Cook’s time at Apple has been a success story. His tenure as CEO hasn’t been without flaws, but for a “just an operations guy” following in Steve Jobs’ footsteps, he has led Apple to new heights while simultaneously reinventing the company anew. 


Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Tim Cook GIF

Liked Steve Jobs vs Tim Cook: Who Is Better As the CEO of Apple? Also read, 10 Times Apple Went Too Far.

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