If you’ve read my tweets over the last months you will know that I’m not too keen on the trajectory that Apple has been on since Tim Cook has fully taken over as CEO. Important duties have been passed on to objectively unqualified SVPs and very little course correction has been publicly visible. I have the feeling that Apple is suffering from the same things that car makers have suffered from in the early 2000s: the companies were no longer run by enthusiasts whose sole goal was to build the best products, but rather by those in control of the money. In the case of car manufacturers the products we got were mostly bland, not really exciting and sometimes only remembered because of their seemingly obvious flaws. Of course there are products every once in a while that appear to be unaffected by these trends cough AirPods cough but this rule generally does apply.
It seems like pleasing investors and paying as little taxes as possible are the top priorities at the moment for Cupertino.
Under CEO Tim Cook, however, Eastman contends Apple’s commitment to quality has declined. “Many talented employees who’ve given part of their life for Apple were now regularly being disciplined and terminated for reporting issues they were expected to during Mr. Jobs tenure,” his complaint says.
“The executive team’s main focus is eliminating tax liability and bad PR being disseminated about Apple,” he claims. “No corporate responsibility exists at Apple since Mr Jobs’ death. There’s no accountability, with attempts at doing the right thing met with swift retaliation.”
The Register asked Apple to comment but we’ve received no response.
“The responsibility which comes with treating your employees correctly will also help Apple fix its management and quality problems. Being the most valuable company in the world doesn’t mean anybody’s above the law. I dream of a day when fixing the toughest problems and delighting the customer return to being priorities again at Apple.”
This report of internal change terrifies me. Apple holds a monopoly on the OS and hardware that I want to use, not only as a professional getting my work done, but much more as an everyday regular user. I don’t mind this monopoly while it is smooth sailing but the idea of the opposite leaves me with nowhere to go. No other notebook feels like a MacBook, no phone has the compute power iPhone has, no tablet has the displays iPad has and none of the competitors hardware can legally run either of my favorite OS’, macOS and iOS.
All of this has to be taken with a grain of salt though. I know this very well, but have to remind myself of it repeatedly.
The reported experiences are from almost 5 years ago, Darren Eastman states that he hasn’t worked since so motives may be unclear and the reasons as to why he wants to be credited on those patents is beyond me, but objectively a valid complaint.
Apple is a huge company and as much as I’d like to see Darren Eastman credited and compensated properly for his contributions to the company, it is unlikely that poor experiences of a single employee reflects on the general management style at Apple.
I think the truth can be found somewhere in between the two extremes, as it usually is the case but I hope that any such issues are acknowledged internally so that any disputes between the two parties can be resolved swiftly.
I think Apple’s general values will sort out any bad management in the long run which leaves me concerned about how Apple represents itself with its products at the moment. I think it’s absolutely embarrassing for a company like Apple to up sell every single customer who walks into an Apple Store with dongles and accessories for almost every device it currently sells just to make the device the customer actually desires work. While management style, or lack of any as it seems in Darren Eastmans case, may exist only unintentionally, nickel-ing and dime-ing every customer is a deliberate decision Apple’s leadership made.
Apple’s once praised culture of excellence and constant dissatisfaction of the status quo by its employees is, in my opinion what made the company what it is today, a trillion dollar company, and the reason why others try to imitate it. It’s the collective sum of humans who make up Apple and that simply can’t be imitated.