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Tim Cook’s Report Card: B+ Student, Needs to Try Harder

Key Speakers At The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC)Key Speakers At The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC)
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, speaks at the 2016 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Aug. 24th may have seemed like just another day to you, but for the Apple faithful—and they are legion—it was a momentous one indeed. Why? Because Wednesday was the fifth anniversary of the day that Tim Cook took over as CEO of Apple from founder Steve Jobs.

So has he measured up to the example set by the great man? That’s an easy one: No, he hasn’t. How could any mortal produce as much value and as many groundbreaking products as Steve Jobs did, or change the nature of Apple the way he did? It’s virtually impossible, especially in only five years.

Not only that, but taking over a massive, globe-spanning enterprise that is already the world’s most valuable public company is very different from trying to re-engineer a failing PC maker.

Some complain that Cook hasn’t really done much that is innovative—but how much innovation does Apple really need? Sure, a new product that could produce another multibillion-dollar line of business would be nice. But keeping revenue stable isn’t too shabby either, as far as many shareholders are concerned.

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The hard part is that realistically there is nowhere for Apple (AAPL) to go now but down, just like when Jobs took over there was nowhere for it to go but up (or out of business altogether). How much bigger could a $600 billion company with 110,000 employees possibly get?

So happy anniversary, Tim! Enjoy the cake—and the $100 million or so in options. And if you have a multibillion-dollar idea lying around, now would be a great time to mention it.