Steve Jobs was focused on innovative products. His successor is focused on process.
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