Tim Cook Does Not Need to Be Like Steve Jobs

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- You've got to be happy in your own skin. That's a big part of what this life comes down to for me. Because, as Bruce Springsteen riffs, It's a sad man, my friend, who's living in his own skin and can't stand the company.

As CEO, Tim Cook has to strike a balance between being himself, being OK with himself and making his mark on Apple ( AAPL) while preserving the culture that made the company great under Steve Jobs.

Let's break that down vis-a-vis reaction to my contention that Cook's management-related power play makes him look a lot more like Jobs.

A commenter to the above-linked article made a thoughtful observation:
Steve Jobs has been rightly lionized for his ability to create winning products, and demonized for his dictatorial leadership style. By praising Tim Cook for "pulling a power play" you have confused the latter for the former. When Tim Cook releases a revolutionary product he will deserve praise and comparisons to Steve Jobs.

That might be the best article comment I have read all year.

To a certain extent, the reader nails it. Frankly, I should have reiterated that point in my article because it certainly has been a theme in my writing pretty much since Jobs passed away.

The subtitle to the article the reader commented on effectively makes the same point, but with some nuance: While Apple's executive shakeup doesn't seal the deal on future innovation, it shows that Tim Cook has some Jobsian fire. Again, just an extension of my long-term thinking on Apple, but with a twist.

You can't paint a complex situation black and white.

It's not as simple as Cook will either be like Jobs or he won't. That's the type of sports fan argument that, for better or worse, seeps itself into politics and stock market discussions.

Don't make it more complicated than it is.

By lopping off the heads of two guys who made bonehead moves, including one who was gunning for his job, Cook showed the world who's boss. He ditched people he considered posers -- dare I say "B" players -- and made it clear who are his top lieutenants.

Again, all very Jobsian in the way it went down, although I bet it would have happened sooner under Jobs if it even had to happen at all.

There's little doubt in my mind that a non-beta Maps product would have made it to iPhone 5 in the condition it was with Jobs as CEO, even with Scott Forstall behind it. So, as I indicated earlier, Cook deserves part of the blame here. He covered his own butt as much as anything else.

There's scant question that John Browett's retail snafu earlier this year would have happened under Jobs. But if it somehow did, Browett would have been fired much sooner.

Cook showed a little self-interest. Even a hint of ruthlessness. Some fire. Some spark.

As somebody skeptical of his ability as a visionary, that gives me hope. That said, it doesn't make me think for a second that Cook's a visionary in Jobs's league. It doesn't portend a smashing product line to follow up iPod, iPhone and iPad.

One thing has nothing to do with the other. While some loose relationship that we'll only be able to connect in hindsight might exist, there's nothing causal here. Cook blowing two people out in a way sort of similar to how Jobs might have done it doesn't necessarily lead to a sudden ability to masterfully conceive, develop and market iTV.

But, by getting Forstall out of the picture and handing Jonathan Ive more rope, Cook likely reduces the chances that he'll hang himself.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this article.

Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.

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