Greg's bite: Tim Cook, Apple under the hood
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Greg's bite: Tim Cook, Apple under the hood

By Greg Mills

As the tech world waits with baited breath for information on the iPad 2, the iPhone 5 and new MacBooks, much attention has been focused on Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook recently. Mr. Cook is famously filling in for Apple CEO Steve Jobs who is out of the office for health reasons. We wish good health and long life to Mr. Jobs. 

All eyes are on the Apple products that wow us with cool features and the sparkle of innovation.  If one looks closely at Apple's manufacturing operations as the engine of what will soon become the most valuable company in the world, the face of Tim Cook stares back at you.  

Mr. Cook has been the supply chain guy at divisions of IBM and Compaq before coming to Apple in 1998. Before Tim Cook, there was a lot of waste at Apple due to a sloppy supply chain where excess parts were wasted and late product releases hampered maximum growth of the company.

When you consider that the parts for an iPhone come from as many as a dozen separate suppliers, and the lead time for manufacturing parts is sometimes longer than anyone would like, it makes Mr. Cook's job tricky. The first order of business is making a close estimate as to the numbers of a certain product you think you can sell. Then, a complete and accurate list of all parts is required. Then you price the parts at every dependable parts supply manufacturer you can find, worldwide. You set quality and scheduling requirements and sign contracts to insure delivery.

Then the magic of the "just in time" supply chain comes in. The theoretical perfect situation is where every single needed part is supplied to the assembly plant, just in time to be used, without shortages or excess parts ending up in storage. Considering the real world situation of natural disasters, labor strikes, parts with quality issues, shipping issues and the time required to put together the final products, you have a quite complicated situation. Mr. Cook, it seems, is a master at making the manufacturing orchestra play with every musical part in perfect synchrony.  

The problem with oversupply of parts or products is that you often have to discount excess inventory that over-saturates the market. The problem with short supply of killer products is that people won't wait forever to get the newest iPhone they really want. They buy an Android phone that is both cheaper and more available. How sad for both Apple and the poor Android owner.  

Tim Cook comes to the rescue. Mr. Cook makes forecasts that tend to be pretty darn savvy about how many of a certain Apple product they will sell. That forecast tends to be higher than just about any Wall Street analyst and normally hits the sales numbers on the head.  

Sometimes, Steve Jobs does such a good job of selling a killer new product the demand far exceeds the supply and additional parts are rushed to the assembly plant and they push production to the limit to meet demand. When a new product replaces an old product the supply of existing parts needs to be evenly used up to avoid waste. Some spare parts need to be reserved for repair and distributed to that network, as well.

When you consider the logistical variables in the Apple supply chain and then know that Apple can draw down the inventory of a major product like the MacBook Pro in a matter of a couple of weeks, to a few days, you see how tight a ship Mr. Cook runs. Rumors are that he can run inventory down to as little as 16 hours anticipating a launch of a new product.  

One factor in Apple's competitive price points on products like the US$500 iPad is the famous bank account balance. Apple currently consumes close to half the world supply of certain chips and electronic parts needed to make the current products. Mr. Cook famously bought up a future supply of flash memory anticipating tight supplies and allowed Apple to sell iPods when the competition was scrambling to find parts for such duds as the Zune.  

Recently, Apple disclosed another, even larger, advanced order for some parts Mr. Cook thinks will be both critical and in short supply, which justified almost $5 billion dollars being paid up front. Some have speculated that Apple is cornering the market on 10-inch HD LED iPad screens for future "retinal displays" on their slate computers. This may actually be some other flavor of touchscreen display that Apple has had a hand in inventing.  

Sometimes vertical development is wise. That is when a company like Apple gets into making their own parts. This closes the window for competitors when the parts are Apple to the core.  The Apple designed and manufactured chip set for iPad locked out competitors until Intel finally got with it and started selling similar chips for touchscreen computers just recently.

I searched the US Patent & Trademark Office database and couldn't find a single patent issued to Tim Cook's name, but the contribution he has made to making Apple what it is today, is tremendous. Steve Job's confidence in the man speaks volumes.  Mr. Cook is also on the board of directors at Nike. Last year Apple paid Cook $59,000,000 compared to $1 to Steve Jobs.  

Information regarding Mr. Cook's personal life is scarce. He is a graduate of the MBA program at Duke and is known to be a workout fanatic. Mr. Cook is also a workaholic and gets his staff out of bed very early to interface with the oriental supply chain. While Steve Jobs is the public face of Apple, Mr. Cook is the power behind the throne. While he isn't another Steve Jobs or Jonathan Ives, he does something very important behind the scenes that allows Jobs and Ives to focus on creating incredible new products.  

That's Greg's bIte for today.

(Greg Mills is currently a graphic and Faux Wall Artist in Kansas City.  Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. Greg is an Extra Class Ham Radio Operator, AB6SF,  iOS developer and web site designer.  He's also working on a solar energy startup using a patent pending process of turning waste dual pane glass window units into thermal solar panels used to heat water see: CottageIndustySolar.com (http://www.cottageindustrysolar.com/solar/Home.html). Married, with one daughter, Greg writes for intellectual property web sites and on Mac/Tech related issues. See Greg's art web site athttp://www.gregmills.com/ . He can be emailed at gregmills@mac.com)

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

How to evolve Eevee in Pokemon GO
By now, almost everyone should be hip to how to evolve Pokemon in Pokemon GO (and if not, there's a guide for that). Just gather enough candy of the appropriate type, feed them all to the Pokemon, and evolution happens. It's a miracle that would... | Read more »
CSR Racing 2: Guide to all game modes
It might not seem like there are all that many ways to go fast in a straight line, but CSR Racing 2 begs to differ. [Read more] | Read more »
Bulb Boy (Games)
Bulb Boy 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Multi-award winning 2D point & click horror adventure about a boy with a glowing head. | Read more »
5 top free emoji keyboard apps
If we're not at peak emoji yet as a society, it feels like we definitely should be. The emoji concept has gone far beyond what anyone in Japan could have envisioned when the people there unleashed it on an unsuspecting world, but the West has... | Read more »
How to unlock more characters in Disney...
One of the big charms of Disney Emoji Blitz is seeing a wide variety of beloved Disney and Pixar characters transformed into smiling emojis. Even someone like the sneaky Randall from Monsters Inc., who probably never cracked a smile on film, is... | Read more »
Cubway (Games)
Cubway 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Cubway is a journey with an abstract story of lifecycle of rebirth, called Samsara. Guide the cube through the long way full of dangers... | Read more »
Colorcube (Games)
Colorcube 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Turn pieces and blend colours in this minimal yet visually stunning puzzler.Over 200 handcrafted and challenging levels. Features... | Read more »
Doodle God Griddlers (Games)
Doodle God Griddlers 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Crusader Kings: Chronicles (Games)
Crusader Kings: Chronicles 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Crusader Kings: Chronicles is an interactive text based game that puts you in the shoes of Guy de Rose as you make... | Read more »
Roads of Rome: New Generation (Games)
Roads of Rome: New Generation 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $5.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple price trackers, updated continuously
Scan our Apple Price Trackers for the latest information on sales, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers. We update the trackers continuously: - 15″... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro (Apple refurbished...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros available for $829, or $270 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros... Read more
21-inch iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 21″ iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 21″ 3.1GHz iMac 4K: $1379 $120 off MSRP - 21″ 2.8GHz iMac: $1199.99 $100 off MSRP - 21″ 1... Read more
Charitybuzz Set to Auction Unique Apple-1 Com...
Offering an opportunity to own the computer that sparked a revolution, on Monday, July 25, leading online charity auction platform Charitybuzz will auction what is claimed to be the world’s most... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP
Amazon has 11″ and 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (sku MMGF2LL/A): $899.99 $100 off MSRP - 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB... Read more
Apple refurbished 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $270 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.7GHz... Read more
Apple refurbished 11-inch MacBook Airs availa...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 11″ MacBook Airs (the latest models), available for up to $170 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is... Read more
Apple iPad Pro Sales Far Outpacing Microsoft...
A report on Appleinsider notes that despite Microsoft Surface tablet PC sales growing by 9 percent year over year, revenues remained below $1 billion, and are down sequentially from the $1.1 billion... Read more
DEVONthink 2.9 Features Ultra-fast, Robust, A...
DEVONthink 2.9 allows users to keep databases synchronized using many means of transport. It transmits them between Macs on the local network or stores them in a syncable form on removable hard... Read more
12-inch WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for up t...
B&H Photo has 12″ WiFi iPad Pros on sale for up to $100 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 12″ Space Gray 32GB WiFi iPad Pro: $749 $50 off MSRP - 12″... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - APPLE (United...
Job Summary As an Apple Solutions Consultant, you'll be the link between our future customers and our products. You'll showcase your entrepreneurial spirit as you Read more
*Apple* Professional Learning Specialist - A...
Job Summary The Apple Professional Learning Specialist is a full-time position for one year with Apple in the Phoenix, AZ area. This position requires a high Read more
*Apple* Picker - Apple Hill Orchard (United...
Apple Hill Orchard, Co. Rte. 21,Whitehall, NY 9/7/16-10/228/16. Pick fresh market or processing apples Productivity of 60 boxes and 80 boxes processing fruit per Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - APPLE (United...
Job Summary As an Apple Solutions Consultant, you'll be the link between our future customers and our products. You'll showcase your entrepreneurial spirit as you Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.