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Getting products to market on schedule was Tim Cook’s specialty as Apple’s chief operating officer. But under his watch as chief executive, product delays have more than doubled compared to when Steve Jobs was CEO.
The average gap between Apple unveiling and shipping a product has been clocked at 23 days in the last six years with Tim Cook as CEO. That’s a bit more than double the average under Steve Jobs, which was 11 days, according to a new Wall Street Journal analysis published Friday. The publication based its report on the timing of Apple’s public statements.
Three of the most significant delays during Cook’s tenure as CEO include the Apple Watch, which was promised for early 2015 but actually shipped in late April; AirPods, which were slated to ship in October 2016 but were delayed until Dec. 20; and most recently, HomePod. The latter device was originally scheduled for a December 2017 launch. That’s now been pushed back until “early 2018.”
Apple also missed the mark when launching the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard for its iPad Pro lineup.
The WSJ notes that, out of the 70-plus new devices launched during Cook’s time, “five had a delay between announcement and shipping of three months or more, and nine had delays of between one and three months.” For comparison’s sake, Apple under Jobs only had one product delayed by more than three months.
Those product delays don’t just result in unhappy customers. They can hurt Apple on other fronts, too. Delays give competitors time to react to new products. HomePod’s delay has given Apple’s rivals, such as Amazon and Google, to further entrench themselves in the smart home market. Of course, delays also hurt Apple’s sales. Both the HomePod and AirPods missed their respective holiday shopping seasons — a critical time for consumer product companies.
The Journal does admit that it’s unfair to judge Cook simply by the delay metric. According to the publication, Cook’s tenure has become successful by other measures..
- Revenue has doubled.
- Apple’s share price has more than tripled in the past six years.
- The company expects the last three months of 2017 to result in a new sales record.
And it isn’t simply fair to blame Tim Cook for those delays either. A wider-ranging and bigger customer base, a faster and steadier pace of device launches, and a more complicated manufacturing process all contribute to the hampered product releases.
For example, as the WSJ notes, Apple sourced the entire camera for the first models of the iPhone from a single supplier. Now, it buys individual components — from lenses to sensors to adhesives — from different suppliers. In other words, it’s a more complicated supply chain due to Apple’s push to customize its devices.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Tim Cook declined to be interviewed for the piece.