NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- There is a lot of chatter about Tim Cook these days.With each passing day, Apple ( AAPL) seems to hit a new 52-week low. Yesterday, it gave up the spot of "world's biggest company by market cap" to Exxon ( XOM). You don't have a steadily shrinking stock price without calls for the head of the CEO. I get that. Yet, I struggle to understand what the critics are saying should be done by Tim Cook's replacement. What would they do if they were the CEO of Apple today?
Be More like Steve Jobs? Who could be? Isn't that asking the impossible? Anyone taking over Apple after Jobs' death would have been set up for impossible comparisons. Take the current tech rock star of the moment and imagine the post-honeymoon disappointment expressed in the tech blogs: " Larry Page just isn't as dynamic... Mark Zuckerberg lacks the showmanship of Jobs... Marissa Mayer for all her intellect just doesn't seem to have the intuition that Steve showed." Succeeding Steve Jobs is a thankless job. Can you remember which NBC show succeeded Seinfeld on Thursday nights? Me neither. No successor can ever be Steve nor should he or she be. The show must go on without him. Be More Innovative? Again, how? The process of being innovative at Apple or Google ( GOOG) or Facebook ( FB) doesn't rest with one man. It's a process. It's a culture. Ideas come up from the bottom and the top. There is debate, disagreement -- sometimes extremely so -- and better ideas come about. Big new products get introduced once every three years, which means we're due for something new later this year. In the meantime, products get refined and improved. This is a constant and is occurring now at Apple just as it always has. Be More of a Showman? Isn't this more of point one? Cook is who he is. He can get all the communications coaching he wants but he'll never be Jobs. And even if he was, that was just one aspect of what made Jobs special.
Be More Shareholder Friendly? There's a view that, since the stock price keeps going down, there must be something wrong between the shareholders' view of Apple and what the CEO is projecting. Cook must not have shareholders on his side, the thinking seems to go. That's why they're selling now. Therefore, Cook must get them on his side by giving more money to them through a buyback or an increased dividend (or issuing preferred stock).
Most critics have no idea what Cook does on an operational basis because they've never seen it. So they're really not in a position to criticize it. It appears to me that he's giving his lieutenants more leeway than they've had before. Sometimes, that's led to some problems (like Oppenheimer's handling of the Einhorn discussions and then Apple's volte-face, although perhaps Oppenheimer would blame that on Cook). Cook's also made a key hiring mistake in Retail and had to let Mansfield retire before scurrying to get him back in the fold and ousting Forstall. Cook's not perfect. But is anyone?