Thursday, September 12, 2013

How Tim Cook can save himself (and Apple) $AAPL #Fortune

How Tim Cook can save himself (and Apple) $AAPL

 I'm sure Tim Cook is hugely competent, a wonderful operating executive, and a real nice guy.
But as CEO of the world's most respected high-tech franchise, he has been an unmitigated disaster.
In the two years since Cook assumed the reins of Apple from iconic Steve Jobs, the new CEO has presided, shockingly, over the dismantling of Apple's pristine reputation for innovation and the crumbling of Apple's high-flying stock. (Full disclosure, I own the stinkin' stock!!)
Cook's latest catastrophe came Tuesday, when, with typically-unbridled Apple anticipation before a packed media house in Cupertino, he personally announced what was billed as "Apple's next big thing."
Only it wasn't.
Rather than unveiling  a game-changing  new iPhone  or  revolutionary new  TV or space-age iWatch or even a long-rumored deal with China Mobile – instead, Apple introduced two phone iterations, one cheaper, plastic and colorful; the other with a faster processing chip and better camera.
"Incredible," gushed CEO Cook about 10 times in his keynote.
Only it wasn't.  "Underwhelming" would have been more like it.
And the next day, Apple stock dropped 27 points in a day the rest of the market soared.
How could this happen?
  1. 1. Apple's products are still the envy of the world.
  2. 2. Apple's stores and personnel are still the model of enthusiastic competence and professionalism.
  3. 3. Sure competition has increased – especially from the Samsung Galaxy S phone – but Apple is still the dominant force in a market that has ample room to grow, particularly in China and India.
  4. 4. Apple's price/earnings ratio – which generally measures the market's "valuation" of a company -- is a paltry 12, compared to Google's 27, IBM's 13, or General Electric's 17. Even the hopeless Dell has been awarded an 18 P/E by the market.
So what has caused Apple's fortunes to tumble?
Two words: Public relations.
Apple, one of the greatest marketing companies of all time, has never been known for good public relations.
Steve Jobs was a marketing genius but less good when it came to public disclosure. Jobs was well known for his dictatorial control, secretiveness and arrogance.  Apple famously refused to share any details of the founder's health, even though the company's fortunes and stock price were materially linked to the CEO's personal well-being.
So Apple observers were optimistic when the more affable/less intimidating Mr. Cook replaced his late predecessor in August 2011 that Apple would become a more communicative, more accessible, more public relations-savvy company.

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