Former Microsoft executive says Apple has lost its way


Tim Cook has presided over Apple since Steve Jobs took a leave of absence in 2011 and later died.

In the rivalry between Microsoft and Apple, there's no love lost. But today a former Microsoft executive is making a bold claim and declaring Apple's lost its way with Tim Cook at its helm.

According to Bob Herbold, a former chief operating officer at Microsoft, Apple hasn't been the same since Steve Jobs died. Cook, who became chief executive after Jobs' death (and served as acting CEO when Jobs took a medical leave prior to his death), is nothing more than an "administrator" of Apple, Herbold implies in an article he penned for Forbes.

Though he doesn't mention Cook by name, Herbold says Apple needs "a visionary leader, not an administrator."

"The leader needs to be paranoid about making the core offerings of the organization more exciting and more impactful with its customers," Herbold wrote. "That sounds simple, but doing it with clarity and speed is absolutely necessary. You must avoid any kind of bureaucracy that can water down the impact of your efforts or slow it to a snail's pace."

Herbold calls Jobs the "ultimate visionary leader," something he claims reversed Apple's fortunes, thanks to products such as the iPhone and iPad. In the article, Herbold cites Apple's recent stock decline as evidence of a waning interest in the company.

By comparison, Microsoft's stock over the past year has also trended downward, while Google's stock has increased relatively steadily since last June.

Source: Forbes | Image via Apple

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I'd agree. I don't think Apple is the same. They don't have the same appeal in the public eye as well as their products aren't the same. Even their commercials are different.

LaP said,
It's cool cause MS has lost it too.
But MS has something they can always fall back on. They have over 400,000 partners. The desktop as we know it will always be 90% Windows and Office as those will be needed for the time immediate future.

What does Apple have to fall back on? If the mobile space falls and caves in on APple, Apple cant fall back on the Mac as they bascially abandoned it years ago and OS X is a fanfare joke. For Apple its they must make the mobiel space work. If MS cant make the mobile space work, the desktop is still owned by them. So I failed to see your point.

Apple has a legion of equally devoted partners. The app store on iOS has cemented Apple in the mobile space. Even if they had a problem selling new iOS devices the existing userbase can generate hundreds of millions for them and their partners.

Well Steve was a visionary...
I agree, they have lost their way, but I do think they will regain it. Its always been about Steves vision and time now for us to see Tim Cooks vision for Apple

Enron said,
Linux will show both of them the way.

All three can hold hands together while they step into the abyss.

AmigaOS all the way!

The only people who think Apple has lost its way are people who write for and people who read tech blogs.

Considering the mess that is Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Surface it looks like Microsoft have lost their way too.

Sales of Windows 8 and Windows Phone and Surface could only be described as lackluster. PC sales are in decline and and Windows 8 is not having a positive effect, if anything Windows 8 on a new PC is part of the reason PC sales are in decline.

The Metro/Modern interface could not be called a success and for many people this interface is a huge mistake unless you are 1 of the few people who run windows 8 on a tablet and actually enjoy and appreciate it.

Edited by derekaw, Mar 26 2013, 8:03am :

Sorry to go off topic here - but I couldn't disagree more. Admittedly, initial Window 8 and Surface sales have been lackluster; however, that does not mean the concept or the devices themselves are failures. I honestly believe Microsoft has got this one right - the future of computing is an interactive (touch) based user experience capable of seamlessly crossing multiple platforms. With the emergence of touch screen laptops, all-in-one computers, and moderately priced touch screen monitors (500 USD), this is the direction of the future. Once you use an interactive device, everything else just seems to be lacking. Sure there will be those that won't need this in the workplace - but through attrition most work centers will eventually adopt interactive workstations. In the same way that most of us are using a Windows OS right now - your employer will surely embrace some iteration of Windows 8 in the future.

In short - Microsoft is way ahead of Apple on this one. Apple OSX does not currently support touch screen input - even their much lauded MacBook Pro lines pale compared to other laptops of similar specifications running touch screen Windows 8. There are still lots of bugs to work out with Windows 8 and the model (ecosystem/cloud) in general; however, it seems clear that someone in Microsoft has a vision of the future - and it is user interactive. Only time will tell if they really got it right.

I think that a legacy OS should not be updated with touch input. That is a mistake.

Edited by derekaw, Mar 26 2013, 9:07am :

bradsday said,
In short - Microsoft is way ahead of Apple on this one.

The all-in-one desktop is something Apple made popular and still excels at. Their iMac comes out on top compared to all others in just about every review on the internet, including those with touch screens. It isn't until very recently that other manufacture are actively pushing for them as well.
Macs don't have touch screens because it really just doesn't make all that sense on a computer with vertical screen, Microsoft themselves are living proof of that: The company has been trying to sell their "Tablet PC" since when? 2002? After more than 10 years they're still not picking up steam. Instead Apple came in, introduced the iPad which turned into a huge hit and caught Microsoft with their pants down for the third time (1st: iPod/iTunes, 2nd: iPhone, 3rd: iPad). Lesson learned? Equipping any random PC with touch screen isn't what consumers are after apparently. OS X Mountain Lion relies on some 15 multi-touch gestures available to the user through multi-touch trackpads. It's much comfortable than trying to reach for your computer screen that's more than an arms length away. Having a screen laying nearly flat in front of you isn't all too comfortable for any extended period of time either.

gotta agree with all the points mentioned here.

I think MS are still fuming that they didn't have the balls to market tablet PC some 10 years ago, ipad came in and took the market by storm.
I think now they are over-correcting and going all out for tablet pc/touchscreens because they don't want to look back in 2023 and say we made the same mistake twice.

but what they are doing is making a new mistake by alienating desktop users who are their bread and butter. after this whole windows 8 and windows blue rcap, im actually for the first time considering OSX because it still has "desktop" mode and allow me to multi task instead of solid colours taking up 90% of my screen!

and I always considered myself a mac hater..

derekaw said,
I think that a legacy OS should not be updated with touch input. That is a mistake.
I agree. What MS should have did was make Windows 7.5 for the tablets only. They still could have did an RT and Pro model. The RT is perfect for people who want an iPad like tablet with Windows and having Office if they need it is a big plus. For those who wanting the desktop on a tablet the Pro option is also good and again they have the tablet UI. But where they went wrong was for forcing it on the stationary desktop. Touch is OK for ALL-In_One PC's. But what they should have did was made it soat least the Metro UI is disabled so that people who have such computers arent forced to see it and they can enable it if they want too.

derekaw said,
I think that a legacy OS should not be updated with touch input. That is a mistake.

NT is anything but legacy.
*Nix'es are legacy and guess what, that's Android.
You're saying Android shouldn't have been created?

TechieXP said,
.....

What a daft comment.

If MS managed like that, the 9x kernel would still be around and the company would be losing money hand over fist in additional support cost structures.

Sorry - I should have been clearer - that is touch screen all-in-one computers. The iMac was very innovative for its time. My point is that in the future - touch screen computers that seamlessly cross platforms will dominate the market. Microsoft has stumbled out of the gate on Windows 8 because it is a native touch interactive OS - while most of the market still is not. In time - this will change. As the consumer demand grows and the price of touch screens decreases - there will be a price point where it makes sense to have a workstation with a touch screen - even if the user is in an environment where it is not entirely necessary.

Microsoft owns around 90% of the PC market - they have 400,000 partners - and they are not going to reverse their decision on Windows 8. This is their vision for the future. In time - (most) consumers and work centers will adopt some iteration of Windows 8 - even if it is through attrition. That is - either you or your employer will eventually have to update your current technology - and unless they are small and agile enough to make a quantum leap of faith - it ain't going to be to Linux and who can afford Apple on an enterprise scale.

Apple, Google, Linux (Ubuntu, Fedora, RedHat) - none of them have a full-fledged commercial touch screen OS on the market. Much less one that is built on a rock solid foundation (Windows 7) with a native touch screen interactive UI - all while being (natively) compatible with the vast majority of commercially available software.

Frankly, I think Microsoft has got it right. Even if it means losing money initially (like the billions they first lost with xBox) - they certainly stand to gain in the long run. This is vision - this is innovation - this is leading technology into the future.

No doubt apple is just living off past glory and a large userbase that Jobs created.

iOS and iphone is so stagnant now, there will always be a steady core, just like with windows who wont abandon ship, but people who are seeking something new and fresh will turn to android and maybe wp8/bb.

the apps issue is a non issue now, unless you have a extremely obscure one, every mainstream app is on all 3 paltforms now or an equivalent one exists.

did u read my post carefully?
I said people will turn to ANDROID and MAYBE wp8/bb.

Android is the future, wp8 and bb suffer from the same problems as iOS that they are closed system tightly regulated by the parent company.

perhaps a Tim Cook is needed as a transition leader. If Jobs was replaced by a smooth talking CEO the comments would most likely be: "He/She is a copycat, Apple lost its way, a genuine leader is needed"

Phouchg said,
And Microsoft has seen fit to follow in their footsteps so closely it even begins to smell like them.

Windows 8 and Windows Phone look NOTHING like anything Apple has to offer. Like the product or not, you can't dispute that Microsoft is being very bold right now. Microsoft is doing things with purpose and vision.

Apple, on the other hand, is busy playing it safe. And I believe they have awoken the sleeping giant in Redmond.

rfirth said,
Apple, on the other hand, is busy playing it safe. And I believe they have awoken the sleeping giant in Redmond.

The vast majority of consumers aren't looking for being shocked into something radically new every few years or so, which is Microsoft's approach. Apple on the other hand eases people into transitions by implementing gradual changes over the years. It's mainly the noisy tech crown on the forums that cry for something radically different every single year and are disappointed when it doesn't arrive. Give it one or two years time and Metro will be just as boring as the rest, if the rest hasn't come up with something new themselves that is.

rfirth said,

Windows 8 and Windows Phone look NOTHING like anything Apple has to offer. Like the product or not, you can't dispute that Microsoft is being very bold right now. Microsoft is doing things with purpose and vision.

Apple, on the other hand, is busy playing it safe. And I believe they have awoken the sleeping giant in Redmond.

To be honest, Microsoft isn't innovating and isn't visionary: They're trying to catch up at best.

With WP8, they have a quality product that could have been the #1 mobile OS… problem is they released it 3 years late. Same thing applies to Windows 8… they released a product that is tablet-friendly in 2012 when the iPad + iOS or Android tablets have been around for 2 years.

I can't call this innovation and vision… they're trying to catch up and they're 3 years late.

Vision was to launch the iPhone in 2007 when people were still using "dumb phones" and to release Android in 2008 to grab market shares when smartphones were still something new and BB was declining

Edited by myxomatosis, Mar 26 2013, 9:12am :

I can't call this innovation and vision… they're trying to catch up and they're 3 years late.

Except you forget that MS had smartphones and tablets out in 2002. Their problem was that they were too early to the game and the tech wasn't there yet. And that they didn't really refine their products until Apple came along.

-Razorfold said,

Except you forget that MS had smartphones and tablets out in 2002. Their problem was that they were too early to the game and the tech wasn't there yet. And that they didn't really refine their products until Apple came along.

This is why Microsoft should be embarrassed that they are losing the way they are...

I know history lessons don't go well when talked about here, but I'll do it anyway...

MS is trying FAR too hard to be Apple with Windows Phone and it is a major reason they are not successful to date. They are trying to be Apple and Google at the same time and it isn't working and might not work until they pick a side. What do I mean by that? Android, the OS that Google purchased to go against Apple, wasn't written to compete against Apple. It was written to compete against Windows Mobile which was dominating the Smartphone OS market before Apple stepped into it. All the "customization" and flexibility that Android offers consumers and OEMs was shared by Windows Mobile and they were written to attract users and OEMs from Windows Mobile.

Microsoft decided to ditch Windows Mobile as it was "too complicated" for end users (they wanted an Apple single device like feel with the UI and hardware chassis requirements) for that reason they nerfed OEMs ability to slap custom UIs and other changes into the OS. For the OEM that reduced their ability to compete so they skipped WP.

Really, the success of Android is proof that is MS simply fixed the UI of Windows Phone (similar to what Android 4.x does when compared to Android 2.x handsets) then they could have already been #1.

They need to stop chasing Apple, but that ship has already sailed.

LogicalApex said,

This is why Microsoft should be embarrassed that they are losing the way they are...

I know history lessons don't go well when talked about here, but I'll do it anyway...

MS is trying FAR too hard to be Apple with Windows Phone and it is a major reason they are not successful to date. They are trying to be Apple and Google at the same time and it isn't working and might not work until they pick a side. What do I mean by that? Android, the OS that Google purchased to go against Apple, wasn't written to compete against Apple. It was written to compete against Windows Mobile which was dominating the Smartphone OS market before Apple stepped into it. All the "customization" and flexibility that Android offers consumers and OEMs was shared by Windows Mobile and they were written to attract users and OEMs from Windows Mobile.

Microsoft decided to ditch Windows Mobile as it was "too complicated" for end users (they wanted an Apple single device like feel with the UI and hardware chassis requirements) for that reason they nerfed OEMs ability to slap custom UIs and other changes into the OS. For the OEM that reduced their ability to compete so they skipped WP.

Really, the success of Android is proof that is MS simply fixed the UI of Windows Phone (similar to what Android 4.x does when compared to Android 2.x handsets) then they could have already been #1.

They need to stop chasing Apple, but that ship has already sailed.

Well that's one way to look at it. However, if you look at Android 1.0, it was more like Blackberry OS which was at the time the number one OS above Windows Mobile. Windows Mobile lost its way completely after MS released WM5.0.

I do agree MS is playing catchup, but fact is they all play that game. SOmeone had ot be first. All APple did was make the smartphone a fullscreen device without a permanent QWERTY. Onscreen keyboards were not new as even WM devices had them as well. But because the screens were so small, you were forced to use a stylus. Apple simply used a bigger screen that allowed the keyboard to be bigger for using fingers.

As far as Android again, when APple got into the game, Android made a chance as the old Blackberry concept was already deemed to be just that - OLD! Android took on the simply desktop static UI for a phones that was also full screen. However the move is evolutionary in nature. If you take an older Blackberry device and remove the QWERTY, you automatically have more room to place more icons. Apple made it sound like they did something so fantastic when in fact it simply wasnt. Smartphones werent new, the concept of usage is what changed. Apple popularized the full csreen option vs half screen half QWERTY.

Fast forward to today and Android starting with HTC popularize integration of apps that do the same things when they introduced Sense to Windows Mobile. Yes MS was a bit late. But many times MS was always to early. Look at WebTv for example. What killed it was poor internet speed and media availibility. Great idea, bad time of execution. Even when MS introduced tablets. What was wrong was 2 things. The OS wasnt ready for it yet as both the UI and the apps need to work with touch, and they left the design of tablets to OEM's who simply took laptops and reversed the screen...which is why MS did the Surface this time. Its a tablet done right.

You dont have to be first. Nintendo was never first with consoles. Where are they now compared to ATARI, Sega and Sony? Not being first allows for others to make the mistakes anhd you come behind them with somethign better. Even if it is 3 years later. Windows Phone will grow. Not being first just means it will grow slower. Which is good. Bec it will get better over time instead of some rush to market pacifier like iOS is.

Apple had a full 2 year advantage over Google and you look at the market and you would think Google was first with its 70% vs Apple at 25%. Yes history has shown being first means nothing. APple was FIRST with the desktop UI they stole from XEROX. As Bill Gates told Jobs, noneof that matters. Windows came and blew the doors off Mac OS. Wheere Android beats iOS is where Windows beat Mac OS and OS X today. They both hit where it matter. Both platforms can handle change with a lot less work. Both are very adaptive, are easy to add and change features, the platform is more open and versatile for company's who need to tailor it to fit their own needs. These are tried and truth concepts that Apple simply doesnt offer.

I do agree MS with WP is trying to give you both APple and Google at the same time. It can be done and it is nto impossible. Windows doesnt need to be so different with brands as phone makers have done with Android. It create a headache waiting for updates. MS owns the OS and it is licensed and they need to be the ones who update it. Carriers are a big problem with phones. Something you dont see with pcs/laptops. MS mdel works it just seems slow bec APple and Google have the biggets market...that doesnt mean they always will.

Those that have the bugger market have time to make changes when trends change. Those who have smaller markets dont. When the next trend changes from mobile, Apple will be forced to jump to it quick becausetheir business model always makes them a fad that needa a new breath of life while everyone with bigger markets can make then amount of gradual change and keep making an even amount of money. Even with the change to mobile, Windows and Office are still MS' biggets money makers and they see profits every single year.

Edited by Hi_XPecTa_Chens, Mar 26 2013, 4:04pm :

-Razorfold said,

Except you forget that MS had smartphones and tablets out in 2002. Their problem was that they were too early to the game and the tech wasn't there yet. And that they didn't really refine their products until Apple came along.

Actually WM phones had almost 50% of market share before MS, making the same mistake Palm did before, stopped innovating. When Photon was ditched and they released WM 6, which was IMO, by far superior than the iPhone, it was already too late.
Also do not forget that the Tablet PC was launched only because Gates pushed for it.
The "dynamic duo", Ballmer and Sinofsky, wanted to kill it even before it was born but Gates won.

.Neo said,
... Apple on the other hand eases people into transitions by implementing gradual changes over the years......

This used to frustrate me to no end, tbh.
When I was doing phone support for a local ISP, I'd have to remember the nuances in mail setup for each and every point release of OSX. No two versions have the same mail client setup.
That's good gradual change for sure. /S

TechieXP said,
Snipped... See above

Windows Mobile could have been the market leader if MS would have revamped the UI and made needed improvements to its underlying core (like deepening .NET integration for instance). By going the route MS did they lost all the relationships they needed to win. A great example is HTC. Arguably HTC made Android popular. Then you look at the history of HTC. HTC got started making Windows CE devices and up until Android 100% of their business was making Windows Mobile handsets for carriers and OEMs (most Windows Mobile devices sold by PC makers were in fact made by HTC). If anything, HTC was what MS paid Nokia to be with Windows Phone 7. To have lost HTC to Google and Android speaks volumes about the problem MS created for themselves jumping ship the way they did and attempting to replicate Apple.

The big problem for mobile (ala "fragmentation") is one that can't go away. The OEMs need to be able to create stupid differences between their devices as that is the way they make money. HTC wants people to think their HTC One is better than the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung wants the same from their perspective. For us geeks we can look at the hardware and sum up which one is a better device, but the majority of consumers are not geeks. They'll buy the HTC because they like Sense or some TouchWiz addon in the Samsung S4. If you kill the ability for the OEM to make these changes, like MS did, they won't be rushing to peddle your devices, and they haven't been.

MS really should have been working to make Windows Mobile more like Windows. The king of being able to handle "fragmentation"... Almost no two Windows PCs are the same. I have 3 screens on mine you might have one, two, three, or more. I have an Nvidia GTX 580 and you might have an AMD card or an Nvidia from 5 years ago. The key is to isolate the OS code from their code. This is done very easily with Windows and we don't have to wait for Nvidia or Dell or someone else to approve a Windows patch before we can install it.

Apple can pull of the one device model because they make the hardware and the OS. This is why MS needs to decide. They either need to buy Nokia and start making their own phones or ditch WP and start modernizing Windows Mobile on the NT core. They need to be able to deliver something to an OEM that lets them feel like they can make money from the device. Right now everyone OEM is looking at it from a realistic perspective that to the consumer there is no difference between the HTC 8X and the Nokia 920 other than the look and feel of the device in their hand. As a result, they feel any investment in Windows Phone will help their competition. There is a reason there are so few WP handsets and no serious push from any other OEM other than Nokia.

The sad reality is Microsoft is so fixated on running the same core of Windows on all screens that they forgot the need to actually deliver value to their users. Those users are both consumers and OEMs. I'm still convinced that is MS doesn't right the ship soon they will lose the Desktop and the Mobile market.

rfirth said,

Windows 8 and Windows Phone look NOTHING like anything Apple has to offer. Like the product or not, you can't dispute that Microsoft is being very bold right now. Microsoft is doing things with purpose and vision.

Apple, on the other hand, is busy playing it safe. And I believe they have awoken the sleeping giant in Redmond.


It's not about the looks. That's just the superficial stuff. It's about the model. The restricted Windows 8 Store, the bars against competing browsers on Windows RT, etc. The Microsoft we knew was open.

You can see the difference with the latest iPod Touch/Nano. They just don't have the polish they used to. Jobs played a major part in product refinement. I don't think Cook is as pedantic to fine details.

He's right. But the same could probably be said about Microsoft imo since Bill Gates has left…

Don't want to be a dic_ but Steve Ballmer looks more like a clown on cocaine (developers developers developers right?) than a visionary leader like Gates was as far as I'm concerned… at least Apple still has an administrator

1) Ballmer has been CEO (i.e. the guy in charge) since 2000. Bill Gates wasn't at Microsoft 100% since he stepped down as CEO, and left the company almost completely in 2008.
2) There is nothing more important to a platform than developers.
3) I'd argue that Microsoft had a TON of vision back in the early 2000's, and even some great products. Their problem was bad timing, either too early (tablets) or too late (Zune) or sadly not pushed hard enough (Windows Media Center). They did manage to get Xbox right though, but it cost them billions of dollars.

dagamer34 said,

2) There is nothing more important to a platform than developers.

You don't magically get developers for screaming "developers! developers! developers!" It doesn't work that way...

1) True. But Gates had his word to say and we could still feel his influence until recently.

2) I was referring to this video: http://youtu.be/e8M6S8EKbnU It's embarrassing for Microsoft to have this guy as CEO. Gates was a visionary leader, juste like Steve Jobs. We'll miss Gates and Jobs sooner than later… But honestly, I'd take Tim Cook 10 times out of ten if I had to choose between him and Ballmer.

3) I agree. I've been using Microsoft products since MS-DOS and I think the early 2000's were the golden age of Microsoft.

myxomatosis said,
He's right. But the same could probably be said about Microsoft imo since Bill Gates has left…

Don't want to be a dic_ but Steve Ballmer looks more like a clown on cocaine (developers developers developers right?) than a visionary leader like Gates was as far as I'm concerned… at least Apple still has an administrator

Yet MS is still making profits year over year. When you have products that take up 90% of a single market, you arent going ot have as high profit margin as a company who has a product that only represents 30% of a market. You have 70% more space to make money money vs MS who has 10% more space to make money.

MFH said,

You don't magically get developers for screaming "developers! developers! developers!" It doesn't work that way...

This is so true. And it certainly doesn't help to change the entire API every now and then. It's especially dirty when you do it to try sell new products. (a well-known and old Microsoft tactic)