Apple's executive announcements might seem ceremonial, but they're also critically functional.
Apple adjusted some titles in its upper ranks today. I say adjusted because, rather than being promotions, they better reflect what's been the reality for a while now.
Jeff Williams, previously senior vice president of operations, is now formally the chief operating officer. That brings Apple's officer count to four, including chief executive officer Tim Cook, chief financial officer Bruce Sewell, and chief design officer Jony Ive. Though Tim Cook was previously COO under the late Steve Jobs, and has world-class skills in that area, being CEO is something else entirely, and so Williams has effectively been COO for a while. Putting Williams' name on the title, though, makes the responsibilities clear, and frees both Williams and Cook up for all that Apple is considering next.
Phill Schiller taking over on App Store is more interesting. While Schiller has effectively had that kind of clout for years, the actual structure has been split between his and Eddy Cue's organizations. Schiller owns developer relations, app review, and evangelism. Cue owns the iTunes infrastructure and editorial, as well as store management and business development. Whether any of those reporting chains change, or this simply cements Schiller's role as the final word on everything App Store, we'll have to wait and see.
When it comes to the App Store and iTunes, the buck officially stops at Schiller.
Historically there have been issues in both orgs. App review has generated complaints about capriciousness and lack of responsiveness pretty much since launch. iTunes infrastructure, lack of resources and tools. Now that everyone, internally and externally, has one person to lobby and hold accountable — now that the buck officially stops at Schiller — how much will any of that change?
Phil Schiller is, after all, only one person and like any senior vice-president at Apple has an immense portfolio to manage. That's why it's great news that Tor Myhren (now formerly of Grey Advertising) is joining as vice-president of Marketing Communications, and that iOS marketing vice president Greg Joswiak has expanded his roll within the organization as well. That should ease bottlenecks and increase attention for everyone.
I'd still very much love a similarly dedicated vice-president for App Store in Phil Schiller's chain. Someone whose only job, from when they get up in the morning to when they clock out in the evening, is to make the App Store great. It's a multi-billion dollar business for Apple, and it certainly deserves it.
Today's announcements have made public a lot of what Apple's been doing internally for a while now.
Announcing Johny Srouji's title as senior vice president of hardware technologies is terrific. Srouji has been running silicon at Apple for a long time and reporting directly to Tim Cook for years. Given the importance of chipsets to Apple's business, and how far Srouji's team has taken it, it's an important statement to make, and not just to investors but to the industry. Apple's the most exciting major chip design company in the industry right now, it's taken seriously at the highest levels, and everybody—especially the best and the brightest new talent—knows it.
Today's announcements have made public a lot of what Apple's been doing internally for a while now. Far less abrupt than Tim Cook's major reorganization it none-the-less continues to treat Apple as a whole as the company's most important product and align people and organizations in a way that supports what's most important to Apple's businesses.
A company's greatest strengths are also its greatest weaknesses. As Apple continues to grow, the culture itself becomes both asset and adversity. The only way to keep growing and expanding and making huge new plays is to continually question and adjust course.
While today's announcements feel mostly ceremonial, what's happening beneath them feels far more functional. And staying functional is critical to Apple's ongoing success.