New York Times seeks to profile Tim Cook after getting shut out by Apple

in General Discussion edited November 2014
A new profile of Apple's chief executive, titled "Tim Cook, Making Apple his own" actually says little about Cook and virtually nothing noteworthy about how he is leading Apple. Instead, the New York Times simply recounts more predictions of doom for the company in a piece filled with fictions and fallacy.

Tim Cook

Not enough Cook in the kitchen

Unsurprisingly, the article's authors Matt Richtel and Brian X. Chen have to admit early on that Cook "declined to be interviewed for this article." It's not hard to understand why.

Richtel may be best known for his bizarre hit piece castigating Apple for working to sell iPads to schools in 2011.

Chen even more famously skewered Apple for even attempting to sell its iPhone in Japan, where he assured his Wired readers that the nation hated it. He even crafted quotes from people in Japan saying how "lame" the iPhone was, even if those quotes were actually completely fabricated. "I think you set out to write this story," Cook told the journalists. "There was nothing that we could have said that was going to change it."

Then of course, there's the New York Times itself, the publication Richtel and Chen are currently writing for, which printed its "iEconomy" series exclusively blaming Apple for everything wrong in the industry.

Even Yukari Iwatani Kane, who kicked off the "Japan hates the iPhone" meme and crafted a masterpiece of delusional Apple doomsaying in her widely panned book "Haunted Empire," could likely anticipate that Cook wasn't going to volunteer any insight to the Times, given her recounting of the aftermath of "iEconomy" in a meeting between Cook, the series' lead reporter Charles Duhigg and the Times editorial board.

"I think you set out to write this story," Cook told the journalists. "There was nothing that we could have said that was going to change it."

The bleak crisis of Apple's success

Without any access to write anything new about Cook, the Times simply begins recounting the tragic series of problems Apple now faces, the largest of which is that there isn't enough money in the world of consumer electronics to replicate the success of the iPhone.

"Its sales now are so large that many investors worry that it can't continue to match the growth that brought it from $65 billion in sales in the 2010 fiscal year to $171 billion in 2013," the article frets.

"In fiscal 2013, sales grew a mere 9 percent, far below an average just shy of 40 percent a year from 2004 to 2013. Profits slimmed. And the stock price fell nearly in half from its 2012 peak to the middle of 2013, vastly underperforming the market."

It is sort of bizarre for a news story in the summer of 2014 to be detailing the "news" from the middle of 2013, but that gerrymandering of facts by Richtel and Chen is necessary because Apple's shares have rebounded over the last year, "vastly outperforming the market" one might say.

Apple's performance over the last year is leading the NASDAQ, the Dow and even beating Google, along with Microsoft, HP and of course, BlackBerry (Apple is the top blue line, above).

Apple wasn't beating the market last summer, and recounting that would have made for a good click-bait story one year ago. It wouldn't have been a very smart story, because it turned out to be a misleading trough based largely upon poor insight on the future, something that has since corrected itself, particularly each time Apple released its quarterly earnings.

Apple's stock had the same roller coaster valuations in 2008, when Apple's share price under Steve Jobs wildly fluctuated up and down, crashing in half before doubling. That was just two years after the fabled iPhone launched and two years before the iPad failed to impress journalists at launch. There is clearly no direct correction between Apple's stock price and the appearance of the next magical iProduct.

Where is the next iProduct?

The rest of the Richtel's and Chen's Times article focuses on citing various people with prestigious titles saying dismissive things about Apple. For example, "'Where is the grand design?' asks Laurence I. Balter, chief market strategist at Oracle Investment Research." And then again, "'Show me the product,' he says. 'Show me the ingenuity.'"

The article recounted several high-level hires Cook has made, and cites U2's Bono as saying Cook is 'trying to replace Jobs with five people.' But it can say nothing from Cook himself.

It offhandedly credits Cook with introducing the iPad mini, citing estimates saying the smaller new iPad now makes up 60 percent of iPad sales (Apple doesn't break of sales of individual models). But then the authors describe Cooks' introduction of "two new iPhones" as having "mixed results," with the iPhone 5s selling "like gangbusters" while the iPhone 5c "disappointed."

Again, the only "disappointment" voiced around the iPhone 5c was that invented by the media. Cook told analysts in the company's conference calls that the 5s/5c mix was not exactly what the company had anticipated, but he obviously wasn't disappointed to have sold more higher end units.

Additionally, Cook has repeatedly noted that the 5c has outsold the middle tier model it replaced, just as the 5s also outsold Apple's previous high end flagship. The only way to be "disappointed" about that is to decide you want to be disappointed, and then actively continue to be disappointed without regard to the facts.

Richtel's and Chen's Times article is quite clearly the same sort of work Cook alluded to when he reportedly told the paper "I think you set out to write this story. There was nothing that we could have said that was going to change it."

A recap of stories from 2013

Instead of insight, the Times duo treat their audience to a series of demeaning observations from academics. Michael A. Cusumano, a Sloan School of Management professor at M.I.T., says "I think it's going to be very difficult for them to come up with the next big thing. They've lost their heart and soul."

There's no explanation of what that even means.

Next up: a recap of iEconomy style reporting, including the idea that "a quarter of a million people had signed a petition on urging Apple to improve working conditions in the factories."

In reality, however, the 2012 petition was organized by an uninformed individual who used a website to collect social media "likes" of a slactivism idea that wasn't accurate. Even the Times had to admit that Apple had already been commissioning public reports on the issues for more than six years before someone on the Internet demanded they start doing it.

Richtel and Chen then blow through Cooks' signature accomplishments at Apple in a couple paragraphs, briefly noting that a senior advisor to President Obama praised Cook's efforts to manufacture products like the Mac Pro and source components like A-series chips, glass and sapphire screen covers in the U.S.. There's a single line of praise from Greenpeace for being "the most aggressive of the companies that we evaluated in getting renewables online."

Apple's Maiden, NC solar array

The article then segues from muted praise to unrelated accusations, first complaining that Apple employees don't donate enough money, then spending paragraphs on a right wing activist who at Apple's shareholder meeting tried to portray Cook as turning Apple in a "philanthropic-focused company" for daring to give consideration to climate change in the design of iCloud server installations, that same subject Greenpeace lauded.

WWDC: what no hardware?

If the timing of an article that basically asks "what is Cook even doing!?" seems to be strangely out of place coming immediately after what virtually every WWDC attendee has called Apple's best show for developers ever, at least Richtel and Chen do manage to shoehorn in something from the event.

Their primary WWDC takeaway, under the subhead "Lennon vs Ringo," (which accounts for about a quarter of the piece) is that Cook is Ringo Starr, whereas Jobs was John Lennon. That's because a WWDC attendee fed them that witty observation. The people who run Apple are like the Beatles.

The Times duo then paired that with a grave warning from WWDC: Apple announced a new iOS 8 app named Health, "but did not also introduce a piece of hardware to measure those results."

"It's something Steve wouldn't have done," the Times cited their WWDC attendee as saying.

Actually, Jobs released iTunes in January 2001. The iPod wasn't delivered until October 2001.


  • Reply 1 of 139
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 3,213member

    NY Times: "if you want positive articles written about your company, give us access... and advertise heavily with us."

  • Reply 2 of 139
    parksgmparksgm Posts: 60member
    Everyone relax.

    It's -movement- in the stock that's so important to those who manipulate it, and this piece clearly is designed to create movement.

    Apple is by all measures doing the impossible. Cook has successfully handled transition of the company from perhaps the most iconic CEO of the 20th and 21st centuries with nary a misstep for the past THREE YEARS. The volatility in the tech segment is such that he would have been out within six month if he wasn't a good fit.

    WWDC was only disappointing to those who can't understand the implications and magnitude of what was revealed. The Times piece implies Apple will fail if they can't continue exponential growth which any sane investor understands has been mathematically impossible for a while now. The Times also rips Apple for not attempting to enter new markets to attempt to continue growing while simultaneously downplaying the Apple's move into the health market. What larger market is there?!?

    The article is a mishmash of poorly sourced and logically inconsistent premises. I would hope that those reading it will be able to see it as such.
  • Reply 3 of 139
    isammiisammi Posts: 8member
    Given the proven fact of marketing maneuvering by competitors, all these Apple doomsayers disseminating negative coverage might have very well been commercially funded.
  • Reply 4 of 139
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,789member

    The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times.

    Good luck adapting your old-school Gray Lady to the 21st century.


    Oh, and good luck with your new executive editor.

    We'll see if he can turn things around for you.

  • Reply 5 of 139
    snailersnailer Posts: 51member
    I like the Beatles analogy... they're in the process of quietly assembling a 'supergroup' after the death of 'Lennon'.
  • Reply 6 of 139
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,111member

    Funny article DED.  NYT is becoming the next Gizmodo of being banned.

  • Reply 7 of 139
    laleslales Posts: 33member
    FWIW, the that's Nate Mendel, the bassist of Foo Fighters in the photo with Dave Grohl. Not some anonymous "attendee".

    And comparing Tim Cook to Ringo Starr goes beyond stupid.
  • Reply 8 of 139
    bertpbertp Posts: 274member

    I have to agree, that the NYT article on Tim Cook's stewardship of Apple, was terrible. Basically, the authors did not appreciate how significant WWDC 2014 really was, in terms of software development: especially the iOS and OS X extensions newly available to third-party developers, the new 'Continuity' features, and not even a mention of the new system language called Swift.


    Instead, the authors fell back on commentators of dubious technical experience, such as financial analysts, who mostly just don't get that technical innovation is mostly evolutionary, and much more rarely of 'paradigm shift' importance. No one can call up technical improvements on a regular schedule; it is inherently an uneven set of improvements over time.


    John Gruber recently made a point, which I paraphrase here…that Tim Cook has, in fact, improved Apple, by enhancing collaboration between Apple's internal groups…with the removal of fiefdoms (including Scott Forestall's iOS fiefdom). WWDC 2014 reflects well this new level of collaboration, and the CEO deserves to be credited for it.

  • Reply 9 of 139
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,526member
    sockrolid wrote: »
    The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times.
    Good luck adapting your old-school Gray Lady to the 21st century.

    Oh, and good luck with your new executive editor.
    We'll see if he can turn things around for you.

    Good one. The Grey Lady shows herself to be clueless, and a tawdry gossip besides.

    Not a good beginning for the new executive editor at all. I'd hoped that he might bring more relevance to the computer tech reporting. I wonder if this is why Pogue left.

    And to think I used to look to the Times with respect.

    Oh, and thanks to DED for a good Sunday read.
  • Reply 10 of 139
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,395member
    I haven't read the Times piece itself but another Apple fansite said Sir Ive and at least one Apple Board memeber commented for the article. To their credit (and as would be expected) they had no complaint about Mr Cook whatsoever.
  • Reply 11 of 139
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    Chen even more famously skewered Apple for even attempting to sell its iPhone in Japan, where he assured his Wired readers that the nation hated it. He even crafted quotes from people in Japan saying how "lame" the iPhone was, even if those quotes were actually completely fabricated. "I think you set out to write this story," Cook told the journalists. "There was nothing that we could have said that was going to change it."


    This Chen guy sounds like Jayson Blair. A liar and a fraud of a journalist. I'm not at all surprised that the NYT would hire such a fraud and a liar of a journalist to pen any articles for them.


    The asshole couldn't have been more wrong. Japan is one of the countries in the world where the iPhone is most popular. What's his motive for lying through his teeth?


    The truth and the facts don't matter at all to many so-called tech journalists who write about Apple. 


    Many of them are merely terrible propagandists and liars, and they make Nazis like Goebbels look good in comparison.

  • Reply 12 of 139
    The mainstream media has really gone to the dogs, broadsheets included.

    What caused the downfall of quality journalism? I don’t know, but it’s the one thing that used to be worth buying a newspaper for, online or otherwise. The bottom has been falling out for many years; one day, they will implode suddenly.

    It seems perverse that quality journalism is the one thing that could save them, yet it’s the one thing they eschew.
  • Reply 13 of 139
    bubffmbubffm Posts: 24member
    Absolutely brilliant write-up.

    I read that weird times article earlier today and was amazed how totally clueless those NYT "journalists" are.
  • Reply 14 of 139
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,526member
    Having read the piece now, I can say that it definitely is not worth the time spent reading, including the strikingly dumb comments.

    It takes a certain amount of intelligence to write about Apple, for example to understand that the Developers Conference is about software, not hardware.

    These two reporters don't rise to the level required. You wouldn't even want to hoist a beer with them. Can you believe how they seized on the Ringo Starr analogy , like as if it were a real perception? I mean, I like Ringo as much as John, but Tim Cook is far more like George Martin, if you insist on drawing dumb analogies.

    Chen and Richtel are drones, the Times has no principles.
  • Reply 15 of 139
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    The sarcasm gets kind of hard to get straight facts out of, in the middle of the article, and that's where the typos (or grammar errors) start up again. I think this article would serve Apple Insider, and Apple, better if it was approached straight (and proofread).
  • Reply 16 of 139
    I posted multiple comments on Flipboard today questioning the statements written in the NYT article. I was amazed at how Laurence Isaac Balter had the audacity to say, "Show me..." This is the same guy who recommended Netflix immediately go to Google after it was announced Comcast was buying Tine Warner. Netflix has withstood You Tube, Amazon, Hulu, Apple, Comcast, HBO and many other competitors. To follow this guy's asinine recommendation would mean the success and experience Netflix has won is meaningless.

    The MIT person chose to ignore the facts that Steve Jovs made many mistakes after returning to Apple. The person also chose to ignore that fact Steve Jobs could and did not do it alone. The people under Steve Jobs brainstormed designs and presented those designs yo Steve, who then said yes or no. Steve Jobs could not run Appe solo.

    The iPhone 5C disappointment was absolutely stupid. This iPhone is supposedly the #2 selling phone in 2013. I bet Samsung, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Blackberry had such a disappointing phone in their selection of phones!

    Since the NYT story was published today, it will be everywhere tomorrow. DED's rebuttal story will be nowhere.
  • Reply 17 of 139
    It seems like many sites are negative towards Apple. Not sure why. The Verge talks positively about apple, but it seems like many commenters don't like it. I think the tech crunch has some authors that are apple fans, but the commenters are very hateful. My sister got an iPhone a few years ago, and told some friends/family how much she liked it, and was introduced to the odd world of Apple hate. She was surprised that people would be upset when she was talking about it, since she talks about products she likes from time to time and never encounters that in any other area. I don't know many android "haters", but I know apple haters. I personally think that as long as the news is focusing on apple, apple will keep doing well. They write these stories because they're desperate for clicks and their businesses are floundering, and people have a big appetite for apple news.
  • Reply 18 of 139
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,998member
    Touring Japan right now. In every city, town, and venue the iPhone is ubiquitous—clearly the dominant smartphone. You'd think it was invented and made here. Don't these naysayers bother to do primary research?
  • Reply 19 of 139
    ajbdtc826ajbdtc826 Posts: 190member
    We can hate on the Times for this (and many other things) all we want but the bottom line is that they're right. Since Jobs died, what new items has Apple come out with? Cook's done little more than polish up what's already available with pieces that should've been in there to begin with! Look at WWDC- all these software enhancements that's disguised by "innovation" are just things that we've all been wondering why we didn't have them from the get-go. If you think I'm wrong, then take your apple stuff out of their boxes and actually use them. Oooooh TouchID is now open to devs- that's something for a .1 bump. Not a whole years worth of R&D.
  • Reply 20 of 139
    Daniel, great piece as always, which is why we cherish your appearances on my radio show, The Tech Night Owl LIVE.

    Interesting that the NY Times "reporters" never mentioned iOS 8 or Yosemite. To them, WWDC was all about Swift, though the name isn't mentioned, and Health (not HealthKit).

    But the Times also hired Molly Wood, formerly of CNET, as a tech contributor. She never met a fact she couldn't mangle. And I speak from experience, having worked with her at CNET. She mangled one of my articles as well and ignored me when I asked her to correct the piece.

    Gene Steinberg
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