There was a magical moment that had nothing to do with financial results Wednesday afternoon in Apple’s (AAPL) conference call with investors. What made the magic remarkable is that it came from Tim Cook, the supposedly uncharismatic, unemotional, uninspiring chief operating officer of the company, the guy whom Steve Jobs tapped to run day-to-day operations during his medical leave of absence, even though Cook already runs the company’s operations.
Asked the inevitable first question about how the company would function without Jobs, Cook let loose the following, courtesy of Seekingalpha.com, a monologue I’m labeling the Cook Doctrine, that he appeared to deliver extemporaneously:
This is fascinating at a number of levels. Some of it is stuff you’d expect from anyone in Apple’s senior management. Some ideas have been articulated at Apple for years. But this shows an executive who has given tons of thought to what it means to lead Apple. He couldn’t have been clearer that he’s in charge, at least for now. It also was a show of strength, as when Cook later threatened Palm (PALM) with patent litigation.
It raised so many questions too. Other than the company’s proprietary operating systems, what technologies was Cook referring to? What are some projects Apple has considered and rejected? When has the company been wrong — and been “self-honest” about it? What’s an example of the culture being so embedded that things work, even when Jobs isn’t involved?
There is so much to learn about Apple that frankly has been obscured for so long by the cult of personality around Steve Jobs. As Cook said before beginning his series of “We believes,” it’s a place with a deep bench. Yet few have heard of the supporting cast memebers, in part for fear of their being poached, in part because its always been all about Steve.
What’s clear is that Apple’s current leader — whom I’ve admittedly spent a lot of time thinking about — is eloquent, forceful and passionate about Apple. He may be a just-the-facts operations wonk with little experience in design, marketing for products. But he’s clearly so much more as well.