Tim Cook is quite a familiar face and voice to those of us who cover Apple obsessively. He's been calmly present in Apple's earnings calls for years, and served multiple stints as an interim CEO -- first in 2004, then in 2009, and he's been at the helm of the company since January of this year while Steve continued to battle health issues. So, while the final departure of Steve Jobs from the CEO role is surprising, Tim Cook is plenty familiar with the job. According to Steve Jobs, Tim's name was already down in an existing CEO succession plan, and he clearly has Steve's blessing. Jeff Williams -- who already reported to Cook as Senior Vice President of Operations, will be assuming the COO role.
While Steve Jobs is famous for his product sense, Tim Cook is known as the genius behind Apple's ability to keep inventory low, ship products quickly, and milk extremely high profit margins. He has served as Apple's COO since 2007, before that working as the Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations. Before joining Apple in 1998 he worked in similar roles at IBM and Compaq.
Fortune ran an in-depth profile on Tim Cook in 2008, which remains the definitive document on the man. If you're looking for something more brief, Apple has a tiny profile page of its own. The Fortune profile includes one particularly relevant quote from Tim himself: "Come on, replace Steve? No. He's irreplaceable… That's something people have to get over. I see Steve there with gray hair in his 70s, long after I'm retired." It seems like Tim's time has arrived much sooner than he expected.
A few great quotes (and audio of Tim's beautiful voice) are after the break, so keep reading.
One great, telling anecdote about Tim Cook, who is known as rather mild-mannered, has popped up in multiple profiles:
Cook's relation with supply chain is best described by an anecdote reported by CNN, related to the period when Cook joined Apple in 1998 to straighten the operational morass that Apple was in. In a meeting convened to tackle a problem in China, he had said: "This is really bad someone should be in China driving this." Thirty-minutes in the meeting he chided Sabih Khan, the then operations executive, saying "Why are you still here?". Khan responded by immediately booking a ticket to China, sans a change of clothes.
Tim's shared his own opinions on the Apple philosophy on recent earnings calls:
When asked if Apple had to cut prices in order to increase sales, Cook offered a variation on a theme: Apple only makes products its people would want to own, and it doesn't go after the lower price. In fact, Cook thinks it's Apple's job to convince people to spend a little more on significantly better products, and he points to China as an example of where that strategy has been a success.
Mac sales were up 28 percent to 3.76m. Tim Cook said that the Mac is "enormous" in Asia and that the US had a "surprisingly strong" quarter, before noting that the Mac has had 20 straight quarters of outgrowing the PC market, which he thinks is stagnating. "We seem to be the only guys that are really focused on building innovative products." He also sees a "great future" for both portables like the MacBook line and desktops like the iMac.
Tim Cook shares a few personal discoveries during the 2011 commencement address at Auburn University including his thoughts on joining Apple, "the best decision that I ever made."