Six Apple executives you need to know about
The story of Apple’s strong management may begin with Steve Jobs, but it certainly doesn’t end there. Apple enjoys a deep bench of executive talent—one of the reasons the company has thrived in recent years.
A complete list of the people critical to Apple’s success would fill page after page. We’ve focused on just a half-dozen executives—if you don’t already know their names, you probably should learn them now.
Tim Cook, chief operating officer
While Steve Jobs enjoys a reputation for having a hand in everything that happens at Apple, behind the scenes Tim Cook is just as involved in the details. Apple’s chief operating officer is responsible for every aspect of Apple’s supply chains, sales, and support services in addition to overseeing the Mac division. An October 2006 profile in the Wall Street Journal described Cook as a “low-key operator making sure the company runs smoothly behind the scenes.” He joined Apple 10 years ago, taking charge of Mac manufacturing and smoothing out the inefficiencies in the process. As the years went on, Cook added more responsibilities before becoming COO in October 2005. The fruits of his labors can be seen in Apple’s sales figures—the company has sold a record number of Macs in four of the last five quarters.
Eddy Cue, vice president of Internet Services
How do you know when somebody’s a go-to guy within Apple? When Steve Jobs calls on that person to fix a high-profile product whose launch was marred by technical glitches and widespread user complaints. That’s the situation Eddy Cue finds himself in with MobileMe. After Apple’s rebranded version of .Mac stumbled out of the gate, Jobs, in a memoacknowledging that MobileMe “was simply not up to Apple’s standards,” turned responsibility for the subscription-based service to Cue, who now holds the newly created title of vice president of Internet Services. “Eddy has been brought in to fix it,” wrote former Apple employee Chuq Von Rospach in a blog post about Mobile Me, “which means it’s going to get fixed.” And Cue has a track record at Apple—he’s spent the last several years heading up the iTunes team at a time that the online store has become a dominant force in digital music.
Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iPhone software
A few days before this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote—the venue where Apple would unveil the iPhone 3G as well more details about the iPhone 2.0 software update—the company had another announcement to make. It promoted Scott Forstall to the newly created position of senior vice president of iPhone software. The timing was not coincidental: The iPhone has grown into a critical part of Apple’s business, and Forstall has emerged as one of the key figures in the product line’s development. When it’s time to discuss the intricacies of iPhone software at an Apple event like this year’s WWDC keynote or the March unveiling of the iPhone SDK, Steve Jobs turns the stage over to Forstall. Of course, Forstall has earned that trust—he’s an 11-year veteran of Apple and one of the original architects of Mac OS X and the Aqua interface. His last job before coming to Apple? Working at NeXT, under the watchful (and apparently approving) eye of his current boss, Steve Jobs.
Jonathan Ive, senior vice president of industrial design
In the consumer electronics and computer markets, Apple is famous for its attention to design. While the popular perception might be that Steve Jobs himself is responsible for all of Apple’s products, in recent years it’s been the notoriously publicity-shy Jonathan Ive who has played the major role in shaping the company’s iconic look and feel. Ive and his team were the force behind the eye-catching industrial design of such prominent projects as the iMac, iPod, and iPhone. Given Apple’s emphasis on the marriage of form and function, and the visceral reaction that its products evoke in users, Ive’s hand is keenly felt in everything Apple makes, from the placement of screws to the boxes the hardware comes in. Ive has won nearly every design accolade you can name, including a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to the design industry.
Ron Johnson, senior vice president of retail
Since moving to Apple from Target in 2000, Ron Johnson has presided over the roll out of more than 200 Apple Stores across the world, including the company’s first store in China. After Steve Jobs, Johnson is one of the most outwardly charismatic members of Apple’s executive team and is a common sight at Apple Store openings. Under Johnson’s watch, Apple’s retail operations have risen to become the envy of the company’s competitors, bringing in almost $1.5 billion in net sales in Apple’s last quarter and routinely drawing new customers to the Mac platform. Apple Stores have become not only attractive places to shop, but also outlets for expert tech support and personal training, as well as social landmarks.
Greg Joswiak, vice president of worldwide iPod and iPhone product marketing
Greg Joswiak is a longtime Apple veteran who rose through the ranks as a product manager in the company’s PowerBook line of laptops. After becoming the company’s chief product marketing manager for Mac Hardware products, he transitioned over to the then-fledgling iPod line—with more than 100 million iPods sold, that product line is anything but fledgling now. Joswiak now manages all product marketing for both Apple’s iPod and iPhone product lines, when he’s not making cameo appearances in iPod-based poker games.