Tim Cook took the stage for the first time as Apple CEO on Tuesday and the reviews are mixed, to put it kindly.
Everyone noticed that that Cook's style is different that Steve's, well duh. Many people seem put off by the affable Alabamian's southern drawl ("he sounded like he was chatting to friends over mint juleps") referring to his laid-back style as undramatic and even uninspiring.
To be fair, too many people expected Cook to be Jobs 2.0, but folks, it ain't gonna happen. Comparisons to Jobs were inevitable, but I didn't expect them to be scathing. I think that people took out their frustrations on the lack of an "iPhone 5" on Cook.
TechRadar called the Cooknote "a rather pedestrian run-through of Apple's recent successes along with a smattering of new product news" -- and in retrospect it's hard to disagree. Cook followed the Jobs playbook to the letter, right down to the jeans, sneakers and black shirt. (To his credit, Cook wore a button down black shirt, because a mock turtleneck would have been downright creepy).
Cook also carried on another Jobs tradition: utilizing a parade of executives to demo the various wares. While Scott Forestall was a natural choice for the iOS stuff, I'm not sure that he should have delegated the big iPhone 4S reveal to Phil Schiller. I agree with BNet's Erik Sherman, Jobs would never have done that. Cook should have announced the iPhone 4S, he's the CEO.
Then there was the factual errors and misleading stats as noted by Sherman, including these gems:
Apple has a 23 percent personal computer market share as of August 2011 (closer to 6.5%)
Apple has sold 250 million iOS devices (this includes the phone-less iPod touch and iPad)
iOS is the largest mobile operating system, with 43 percent compared to Android’s 33 percent (did it include touches and iPads?)
Then there was that line about the Sony Walkman. Cook stated that "it took Sony 30 years to sell 220,000 Walkman cassette players" when Sony has publicly stated that it sold 186 million of the cassette Walkman. And if you want to pad numbers Sony also sold 46 million of the CD Walkman and 4.6 million of the MD Walkman which my calculator tells me is a total of 236.6 million Walkmen -- making Tim wrong by a factor of 1,075. Yes, it appears that Apple missed not one, but three decimal places.
Then there was the products, or lack thereof.
The iOS 5 and iCloud part of the presentation felt like a 45 minute of rehash of WWDC 2011 in June. Embarrassingly so. Apple should have either a) held stuff back from WWDC or b) demoed new use cases for some of the already well-known features.
But it wan't that bad, was it?
Yes it was, according to Zach Epstein who concluded on BGR that Tuesday's event was "Apple's fall from grace." But Epstein's piece was so bad that Jonathan S. Geller had to backpedal and rush out a puff piece two hours later claiming that it was "Apple's rise to greatness." Which is it?
Tim cook should send the Siri team on a Hawaiian vacation because they saved the event from being a total bust. Speech recognition is major feature that I've been wanting for a while, and it finally puts iOS on an equal footing with Android. If Siri hadn't been demonstrated I have a sinking feeling that angry Mac users would #OccupyCupertino and demand Cook's head on a silver platter.
And what's this business about Siri only being available on the iPhone 4S? I understand that it requires a lot of horsepower to do the processing but Apple offloads some of that to iCloud, so you can't tell me that Apple couldn't have made it work with the iPhone 4. The Siri Assistant app worked on a number of previous iPhones (if you grabbed it before Apple pulled the plug), as do Nuance's Dragon Go and the Google Search apps.
This is planned obsolescence at its worst, Apple's undoubtedly holding Siri back to sell more iPhone 4Ses.
Tuesday was mostly a re-hash of WWDC with an evolutionary iPhone revision and it was Siri that pushed the Cooknote over the line to pass -- but just barely.