Stepping into Steve Jobs' magic sneakers would be a big ask for anyone - so you can imagine how new Apple CEO Tim Cook felt when he stepped up on stage at Apple's Cupertino HQ last night.
The affable Alabamian certainly looked the part.
Dressed in jeans and a black shirt and trainers he looked every bit the Apple executive. But instead of the whizz-bang theatrics we're used to, we got a rather pedestrian run-through of Apple's recent successes along with a smattering of new product news, much of which had been previously trailed by Apple itself or reported on by Apple rumour sites.
Unfortunately Tim's laid-back southern drawl didn't really help. At times he sounded like he chatting to friends over mint juleps in his drawing room rather than giving the speech of his life:
"I want to especially welcome you to this campus. This campus is like a second home to many of us. Inviting you here is like welcoming you into our home. In particular I want to welcome you to this room that we call the Town Hall..."
The other thing Tim Cook did was to let other Apple executives hog much of the limelight - which may be just as well. He turned the presentation about IOS 5 and iCloud over to iOS senior vice president Scott Forstall (makes sense) but then turned the climactic iPhone 4S announcement over to Apple SVP for worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller - something Steve Jobs would never have done at his peak.
To be fair, Tim Cook was partly echoing what Steve Jobs has done himself in recent years - trying to place less emphasis on the presence of a charismatic figurehead and more on an executive collective that's at the top of its game, but it also denied Tim Cook the chance to surprise us all with a 'one more thing'. Steve Jobs loved his 'one more thing':
For Tim Cook, things can only get better, of course. His presentation skills are likely to improve as he steps out of Steve Jobs' shadow and becomes his own man - although some chutzpah would help too.
He certainly needs to hurry up and grab some quick, if the performance of Amazon chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos at the Kindle Fire launch last week is anything to go by. Bezos has already been declared the new Steve Jobs in some quarters, even if he lacks the former Apple CEO's considerable charisma:
Jeff Bezos had learned from the presentation techniques seen in Steve Jobs' iconic keynotes - right down to the moody stage lighting, use of minimalist slides and meticulously rehearsed timing:
Mind you every time we see Bezos do his thing, we can't help but be reminded of this guy, a certain Dr. Evil:
So lacklustre it may have been, but there's one positive note to take away from Tim Cook's inaugural keynote last night. He least he managed to avoid making himself look like a complete idiot like a certain other CEO once did:
Tim Cook also has plenty of aces up his sleeve. He was personally selected by Steve Jobs to take over the high profile role of Apple CEO, suggesting Jobs and the board have full confidence in him.
Tim Cook's appointment has also been well received by Apple investors and shareholders. What Tim Cook needs to do now - and in the future - is prove that he can measure up to the faith that has been placed in him.
Liked this? Then check out Hands on: Phone 4S review
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