Journalist Yukari Iwatani Kane covered Apple for the Wall Street Journal for five years, a time that saw the death of the company’s founder Steve Jobs and the passing of the torch to current CEO Tim Cook. In her new book “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs“, Kane says Apple’s best days are over, and she’s not afraid to point fingers.
It’s pretty clear you believe that Tim Cook failed in the promise he made to Apple employees when he took over as CEO. He said, ‘I want you to be confident Apple will not change.’ Why do you think he has failed?
“I think that was an impossible promise, because Steve Jobs not being there changes everything. This is a company that was synonymous with Steve Jobs for so long and he’s no longer around. So of course Apple has to change.”
But Apple is still making money hand over fist, and it’s got some of the most successful devices out there. It is by most conventional methods still a really, really, really successful company.
“If you’re talking about a traditional scale, Apple is making a lot of money still, and they could be successful for a long time to come. But if your definition of success is Apple’s definition of success, which is to make insanely great products that change the world, well, then you’ve got a different problem.”
Steve Jobs was a man of no small ego. What do you think he would have thought of the troubles that Tim Cook is having now and the situation Apple finds itself in?
“I have talked to people who knew Steve who speculate that part of the reason he chose Tim Cook was that he knew Tim Cook would do a good job leading Apple and running the business, but that he knew that he also wasn’t going to exceed Steve Jobs at being Steve Jobs. His legacy wouldn’t be complete until Apple was seen to fade a little bit.”
Do you think Steve Jobs would be taking a little pleasure in Tim Cook’s struggle?
“The first time it was announced that Steve Jobs had cancer the stock fell only 2 percent. And Steve’s reaction was, ‘That’s it?’ He was very disappointed. So he wouldn’t want Tim Cook to do better than he did.”
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