Apple CEO Tim Cook’s apology yesterday to Chinese consumers for the company’s warranty and repair services is the latest example of how different he is from Steve Jobs. The late Apple CEO, for all his brilliance, was not prone to saying he was sorry and was indifferent toward investors. In contrast, when hedge fund manager David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital pressed Apple earlier this year to return more of the company’s $137 billion cash pile to shareholders, Apple actually acknowledged his existence. Of course, Apple’s stock had also fallen by 40% since September, putting pressure on Cook in a way that Jobs never faced.
Some have criticized Cook’s Mr. Nice Guy ways, saying the apologies turn public attention on to what Apple did wrong. Others have praised Cook for bringing more accountability to Apple. Whether good or bad, Cook’s style is here to stay. Here’s a timeline of his un-Jobs-like moves.
January 2012 — Cook says he donated $100 million to charity. Jobs was not a fan of philanthropy.
March 19, 2012 — Apple issues a dividend, its first one since 2000, and announces a stock buyback program.
Sept. 28, 2012 — Cook issues his first apology, for Apple Maps on the newly released iPhone 5, which gave inaccurate results for locations and directions. In a letter to customers, Cook says “we are extremely sorry.”
Dec. 6, 2012 — Cook announces Apple will invest $100 million in making some computers in the US, a reversal of Jobs’s choice to keep production in Asia.
Feb. 7, 2013 — Apple acknowledges shareholders with a statement saying it is studying cash return options, including Greenlight Capital’s plans. Apple says it welcomes “the views of all of our shareholders.” In a rare move, Apple hires Goldman Sachs to advise on Einhorn and cash options, according to sources.
April 1, 2013 – Cook apologizes to Chinese consumers (Google translation of letter in Chinese) and details improvements to Apple’s service.