But he wasn’t talking about whizzy new products like the iPhone or iPad. Cook’s expertise is in operations — in the supply chain that produces those iPhones and iPads.
“The number of turns he did on the inventory was amazing,” said Fadell, by way of example. “That’s a kind of innovation.”
As if to underscore that point, Bloomberg‘s Adam Satariano posted a long piece Wednesday about the record $10.5 billion in capital expenditures that Apple has earmarked in fiscal 2014 for things like aluminum milling machines, laser polishers and industrial robots.
“Apple deploys capital as a competitive advantage,” says Asymco‘s Horace Dediu, who produced the attached chart comparing what Apple and Samsung each spend in a year with what the U.S. Navy spends in a dozen year to build a single aircraft carrier.
One of Dediu’s commentators, writing under pseudonym Glaurung-Quena (literally, “dragon queen”), explained with admirable clarity what Tim Cook is up to:
- Bloomberg: Apple’s $10.5B on Robots to Lasers Shores Up Supply Chain
- Asymco: A yardstick for capex
- Fortune: Tony Fadell on practicing what he preaches