Silicon Valley State of Mind, a blog by John Weathington, "The Science of Success"
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Silicon Valley State of Mind

Tips, thoughts, and advice based on the consulting work of John Weathington, "The Science of Success."

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Posted by on in Leadership

Details on the much anticipated iPhone 5 were released yesterday—a much anticipated State of the Union by Tim Cook, the highly scrutinized successor to Steve Jobs, who was one of the most visionary leaders the world has ever seen. Since Jobs’ passing last year, many have been closely watching to see if Cook can fill Jobs’ shoes. I feel yesterday marked his chance at a real first impression of his leadership, and I regretfully admit, I’m not impressed. There are not too many pivotal moments in a leader’s career; when they come around you must seize the opportunity, not fizzle it away.

Cook gets a pass on the iPhone 4s; to me, this was a dot release that basically glided on the vision of Jobs. Some might argue that the iPhone 5 is at least in part propelled by Jobs’ petroleum; however, in the iPhone 5 release, I’m already noticing signs of a product that was released by a COO, rather than a CEO. Much of the buzz on the iPhone 5 was about a slimmer design, a bigger screen, and a faster processor. And, it seems the new iPhone 5 can plug into the LTE network, which may open up its use to a broader audience. These are nice features, but that’s about the most I can say. Where are the earth-shaking benefits Apple is known for? The iPhone 4 changed my life; now the iPhone 5 makes it a little easier. For the first major release since Jobs’ passing, Cook really needed to come out stronger than this.

It’s not like Cook didn’t have the chance, and his competitors are having his lunch. Cook decided to focus on slimmer design, while many new smartphones (BlackBerry, Android, Motorola) have already released near-field communication capabilities, which drives mobile payments. Cook decided to focus on a bigger screen when the same competitors are exploring advanced biometric security like face recognition.

I refuse to believe that Apple can’t follow an amazing release with another amazing release. It may be too early to judge, but the Jobs Factor is what brought Apple back, and if Cook and the new Apple can’t invoke that mojo, they’ll be in trouble.

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