For guys like Cook -- he doesn't strike me as an egomaniac -- compensation ends up being a symbolic gesture. If he took a $1 salary, it's symbolic. If he brought in $50 million in 2012 instead of the $4.2 million he earned, it's just as symbolic. He's not an engineer or some other rank-and-file spare. We're not talking about the difference between renting in San Francisco's Mission District or buying a Victorian in Pacific Heights. It's not a matter of one guy pulling in $350,000 a year and the other $225K. Here's what it comes down to for Tim Cook and Apple right now:
Crush the holiday quarter with record earnings in January.
Enjoy that ride for a few weeks, maybe months while working your butt off.
Try to stave off another period of bearishness by innovating sooner rather than later.
As I have tried to tell anybody willing to listen, AAPL started dropping because of capital gains tax-related, end-of-year selling. Hysteria from the media and Wall Street analyst hacks intensified that selling, which has now spun out of control. The concerns about life in a post-Steve Jobs world -- concerns I have been expressing since the guy died -- have come roughly one year too soon. Let's approach the subject again around March, when Apple is rumored to have another iPad coming. That could be a mistake. You can only up the ante incrementally so many times. Then, come summer, let's revisit these long-term worries again. At that point, Tim Cook will have to pull "one more thing" from his sleeve, assuming it's there (I think it might be). If he doesn't and Apple loses, the company will have beat itself because there's no competition in sight up to the task. Follow @rocco_thestreet --Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.