Exactly one year ago today, Tim Cook took over the leadership of Apple from Steve Jobs. CNET's Josh Lowensohn reports that his first year at the company has been a huge success.
Not everyone believed that Cook, who had filled in for Jobs twice during his battle with pancreatic cancer, would keep the company on its incredible journey. When the announcement of his appointment as CEO was made, Apple's stock dropped more than $6 a share. But now the stock is up 44 percent over its value at this time in 2011 and Apple was recently named the most valuable company in the world in terms of market capitalization.
During Cook's first year, the company continued to see revenue growth outpacing the rest of the industry during a worldwide recession, continues to fight patent battles against rivals in court to assure that Apple (in the words of Cook) "not become the developer for the world," and has released follow-ons to its highly successful products.
However, some Wall Street analysts believe that Apple's future is bleak without the charisma of Jobs at the helm. Forrester CEO George Colony was quoted in April as saying that "Apple's momentum will carry it for 24 to 48 months, but without the arrival of a new charismatic leader it will move from being a great company to being a good company."
Cook has made several mistakes. He hired John Browett to replace Ron Johnson as the head of Apple's retail operations, and Browett tried playing with staffing at some stores. That resulted in rumors that employees were going to be laid off or work fewer hours, forcing the company to publicly announce that it had been trying out a new staffing plan and had gone back to the old and trusted system. Widespread criticism of iPhone ads using celebrities and the recent "Genius" ads shown during the 2012 London Olympics are considered another faux pas.
On the other hand, Cook has been visible in ways that Jobs would never have been. He visited Foxconn plants during criticism of the way that the manufacturer treated its employees. He created a matching charitable donation plan for employees, and set up better employee discounts for Apple products. He even made a personal donation of $100 million to the Stanford (CA) hospitals and PROJECT (RED), while Jobs wasn't known as a philanthropist.
The long-term future of Apple cannot be foretold, but after the first year of Tim Cook at the helm, it looks like the company is doing just fine. Be sure to read TUAW blogger Michael Grothaus's post from last year talking about his personal experiences with Cook.