After Steve Jobs died a year ago, there was a constant buzz about what would happen at Apple -- and to Apple. For months, each day brought new headlines questioning whether or not CEO Tim Cook was up to the task of running Apple. Each new product announcement, every response that Apple made to labor and environmental critics, and missteps like the iOS 6 Maps fiasco were fresh fodder for the "Steve would have..." musings by media pundits.
Most of those who weighed in assumed that Jobs would have done a better job handling the event or crisis du jour. But by making that assumption, critics missed an important consideration: Maybe Cook's leadership is actually better for Apple.
Cook may not be the fire brand that Jobs was, but it has become very clear over the past few months that Apple under his leadership remains a force to be reckoned with.
The timing of the iPad Mini announcement -- rumored to have been delayed by manufacturing issues but possibly pushed back to control this week's tablet narrative -- sends a simple message to the Apple's competitors. That message: We are the most successful technology company in the world, we have more resources than you, and we're prepared to bring anything to the table to compete. You are playing on our turf now.
An invigorated Apple
That's a far cry from the Apple of 10 years ago, the one Jobs rescued from ruin and that had only just unveiled the iPod. It's even a far cry from the Apple of five years ago, when it had just released an iPhone that was almost laughable due to limitations like no third-party apps, no 3G connectivity, and its ties to a single carrier (AT&T). In fact, the Apple of today has something of the swagger of the company that brazenly welcomed IBM to the PC market more than three decades ago.
The timing of this week's iPad Mini event is just one way in which Apple is using all of its resources to compete.
Dropping Google Maps
Dropping Google Maps, which resulted in the work-in-progress Siri-integrated Maps app in iOS 6, was another great example of this new attitude as well as an important strategic move. Google wasn't providing features that Apple needed to compete -- turn-by-turn navigation being the biggest example. That meant Google was using its mapping technology to give itself a real edge over Apple in the mobile landscape.