Bloomberg: Jeff Williams is Second-Most Important Person at Apple, Operates Similar to Tim Cook

Last month, Apple announced that Jony Ive will be leaving Apple later this year to form an independent design company, with Apple among its primary clients. In turn, Apple indicated that its operations chief Jeff Williams will spend more of his time working with its design team in their studio.

tim cook jeff williams
Williams has long been considered a frontrunner to succeed Tim Cook as CEO of Apple, and with his expanded design-related oversight at Apple, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman believes he is "unambiguously the second-most important person at Apple" and first in line to succeed Cook when the time comes.

In line with his calm demeanor on stage at Apple events, Gurman notes that Williams has over the years distinguished himself as a modest, disciplined, and demanding leader, much more like Cook than Steve Jobs.

From the report:

"He's the closest thing at the company to Tim Cook, and you'll get more of that," a former senior Apple executive says of Williams. "If you think Cook is doing a good job, then it's a good choice."

Williams is considered to be slightly more hands-on with product development than Cook, however, as evidenced by his leadership of the Apple Watch team since its inception. Williams is also said to attend weekly reviews of product and industrial design progress and brief Cook on the discussions.

Gurman:

Williams now oversees the development of all Apple hardware products, holding weekly meetings to gauge their progress. Although the process is formally called NPR, or New Product Review, some employees call this the "Jeff Review." During the development of the AirPods, some of them noticed that Williams continued wearing Apple's wired headphones instead of the new product. Williams wasn't yet happy with the fit of the wireless model.

The big question mark with Ive's impending departure is whether Apple will remain innovative. Critics will argue that Apple has already become complacent under Cook, and with Williams having a similar operations-focused approach, the narrative is that Apple might falter without a Jobs-era visionary.

From the report:

"One doesn't necessarily need a visionary as CEO of Apple as long as there's a visionary in the company that the CEO can work with," says Michael Gartenberg, a former Apple marketing executive. "Tim Cook had Jony Ive. The question is, with Ive gone, who is the visionary at the company that can guide the next big thing?"

Depending on how involved Ive remains with Apple through his independent design firm, that might not be a concern for several more years to come. Apple has also more than doubled its market value under Cook, so any concerns that Apple has fallen behind in the post-Jobs era are arguably overblown.

It's worth noting that there is no sign that Cook plans to step down any time soon. Williams, 56, is also less than three years younger than Cook.

Top Rated Comments

rpat701 Avatar
33 months ago
Apple is now an operations company...not an innovation company. It's clear it's all about efficiency and margin. Sad.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mi7chy Avatar
33 months ago
Equivalent to stacking the top of Xerox with toner heads.

Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Azeroth1 Avatar
33 months ago
“One doesn't necessarily need a visionary as CEO of Apple as long as there's a visionary in the company that the CEO can work with”

That quote scare me.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Glockworkorange Avatar
33 months ago
Apple is such a massive company; to different from the good old days...
To think that there will ever be another Steve Jobs running the company is naive - or even believing that there will ever be someone like Steve in the world again is naive.

The most realistic thing to hope for is that Jeff loves products (both technically and visually) and will fill the part that Apple arguably has been missing the past years: Steves ability to execute and oversee development/innovation.
Jeff could be the “product guy” that Tim obviously isn’t.

The design team will definitely handle the Ive-part of designing beautiful products with great attention to detail. Ive has without a doubt built an incredible team.
I mean, I've seen no evidence of Williams being a "product guy." This is based on his appearances during Apple events, so small size and probably not fair. BUT...

Go back and watch some of the old Jobs' product announcements. You can tell he just loves the stuff. He thinks what he's talking about is just the coolest stuff in the world. He's following a script, but he clearly doesn't need it. This is a guy who can talk all day about how cover flow is probably the greatest thing ever invented and how Apple Greeting Cards (remember those) are going to revolutionize communication. Neither of those things were accurate (although I personally miss coverflow), but it was nice to see genuine enthusiasm. Such joy.

Contrast that to the people today, including Williams. They are rushing on stage with a script, glassy eyed and there is zero evidence they love the stuff. Any excitement is manufactured and built into the script (e.g., "I can be the first to show you the amazing new TouchBar." Lol--get the **** out).

They're all terrible. Even Craig, although fun, doesn't really show that adoration for the things he's talking about. Phil neither. Cook is just a robot.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
UK-MacAddict Avatar
33 months ago


Apple has also more than doubled its market value under Cook, so any concerns that Apple has fallen behind in the post-Jobs era are arguably overblown.

Just because Apple doubles its market value it doesn’t mean that the products have been great during that period or that Apple has not fallen behind.

I believe Tim Cook especially in the last few years with the price hikes has really ridden his luck with the Apple faithful and how much they are willing to be taken for a ride. In my case I have loved Apple for many years and each purchase was an emotional purchase partly based on my love of the history of the company and how great Steve Jobs was in showing his genuine passion for a product he believed in. Given so much passion some misgivings have been forgiven, like the iPhone 4 antenna for example. I have continued purchasing the products through the price hikes in the Tim Cook era in hope that eventually prices would come down to a reasonable level again and that products would improve.

However I have come to realise my emotional attachment to the company and its products are waning, with Tim Cook sticking two fingers up to the consumer with absurd price hikes every year. I mean an iPhone price jump of £400 in one year (iPhone 7 to X) is absolutely absurd. The whole product line up is stale and loaded with proprietary upgrades which they also charge obscene amounts for. Jony Ive is leaving and an operations guy is being placed in charge of design, people should be worried the direction Apple is heading.

There is nobody on the leadership team at Apple that has any charisma about them, bar Craig Federighi perhaps. They are just a bunch of boring suits and I hope it doesn’t happen but eventually I believe that Apple will just be another boring company churning out run of the mill products.

The cult of Apple is officially dying.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gsurf123 Avatar
33 months ago
The "not innovative" line is so wrong. They are not in the business of turning out new products every 6 months that are on the cutting edge. You can't make up products out of thin air nor do you want to pull a Samsung and deliver products that burn up or incomplete, untested products such as the folding phone. First to market rarely is memorable. They have turned out the best smartwatch, the best wireless EarPods, quick updates to the entire computer line and a Pro machine aimed at Pros, not just those who are not or who are dreamers. No one knows what is in the pipeline so to speculate is a waste of time. No question they were late to the smart speaker market and probably should have bought Sonos.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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