Affiliate Disclosure
If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Read our ethics policy.

New York Times seeks to profile Tim Cook after getting shut out by Apple

A new profile of Apple's chief executive, titled "Tim Cook, Making Apple his own" actually says little about Cook and virtually nothing noteworthy about how he is leading Apple. Instead, the New York Times simply recounts more predictions of doom for the company in a piece filled with fictions and fallacy.

Not enough Cook in the kitchen

Unsurprisingly, the article's authors Matt Richtel and Brian X. Chen have to admit early on that Cook "declined to be interviewed for this article." It's not hard to understand why.

Richtel may be best known for his bizarre hit piece castigating Apple for working to sell iPads to schools in 2011.

Chen even more famously skewered Apple for even attempting to sell its iPhone in Japan, where he assured his Wired readers that the nation hated it. He even crafted quotes from people in Japan saying how "lame" the iPhone was, even if those quotes were actually completely fabricated. "I think you set out to write this story," Cook told the journalists. "There was nothing that we could have said that was going to change it."

Then of course, there's the New York Times itself, the publication Richtel and Chen are currently writing for, which printed its "iEconomy" series exclusively blaming Apple for everything wrong in the industry.

Even Yukari Iwatani Kane, who kicked off the "Japan hates the iPhone" meme and crafted a masterpiece of delusional Apple doomsaying in her widely panned book "Haunted Empire," could likely anticipate that Cook wasn't going to volunteer any insight to the Times, given her recounting of the aftermath of "iEconomy" in a meeting between Cook, the series' lead reporter Charles Duhigg and the Times editorial board.

"I think you set out to write this story," Cook told the journalists. "There was nothing that we could have said that was going to change it."

The bleak crisis of Apple's success

Without any access to write anything new about Cook, the Times simply begins recounting the tragic series of problems Apple now faces, the largest of which is that there isn't enough money in the world of consumer electronics to replicate the success of the iPhone.

"Its sales now are so large that many investors worry that it can't continue to match the growth that brought it from $65 billion in sales in the 2010 fiscal year to $171 billion in 2013," the article frets.

"In fiscal 2013, sales grew a mere 9 percent, far below an average just shy of 40 percent a year from 2004 to 2013. Profits slimmed. And the stock price fell nearly in half from its 2012 peak to the middle of 2013, vastly underperforming the market."

It is sort of bizarre for a news story in the summer of 2014 to be detailing the "news" from the middle of 2013, but that gerrymandering of facts by Richtel and Chen is necessary because Apple's shares have rebounded over the last year, "vastly outperforming the market" one might say.

Apple's performance over the last year is leading the NASDAQ, the Dow and even beating Google, along with Microsoft, HP and of course, BlackBerry (Apple is the top blue line, above).

Apple wasn't beating the market last summer, and recounting that would have made for a good click-bait story one year ago. It wouldn't have been a very smart story, because it turned out to be a misleading trough based largely upon poor insight on the future, something that has since corrected itself, particularly each time Apple released its quarterly earnings.

Apple's stock had the same roller coaster valuations in 2008, when Apple's share price under Steve Jobs wildly fluctuated up and down, crashing in half before doubling. That was just two years after the fabled iPhone launched and two years before the iPad failed to impress journalists at launch. There is clearly no direct correction between Apple's stock price and the appearance of the next magical iProduct.

Where is the next iProduct?

The rest of the Richtel's and Chen's Times article focuses on citing various people with prestigious titles saying dismissive things about Apple. For example, "'Where is the grand design?' asks Laurence I. Balter, chief market strategist at Oracle Investment Research." And then again, "'Show me the product,' he says. 'Show me the ingenuity.'"

The article recounted several high-level hires Cook has made, and cites U2's Bono as saying Cook is 'trying to replace Jobs with five people.' But it can say nothing from Cook himself.

It offhandedly credits Cook with introducing the iPad mini, citing estimates saying the smaller new iPad now makes up 60 percent of iPad sales (Apple doesn't break of sales of individual models). But then the authors describe Cooks' introduction of "two new iPhones" as having "mixed results," with the iPhone 5s selling "like gangbusters" while the iPhone 5c "disappointed."

Again, the only "disappointment" voiced around the iPhone 5c was that invented by the media. Cook told analysts in the company's conference calls that the 5s/5c mix was not exactly what the company had anticipated, but he obviously wasn't disappointed to have sold more higher end units.

Additionally, Cook has repeatedly noted that the 5c has outsold the middle tier model it replaced, just as the 5s also outsold Apple's previous high end flagship. The only way to be "disappointed" about that is to decide you want to be disappointed, and then actively continue to be disappointed without regard to the facts.

Richtel's and Chen's Times article is quite clearly the same sort of work Cook alluded to when he reportedly told the paper "I think you set out to write this story. There was nothing that we could have said that was going to change it."

A recap of stories from 2013

Instead of insight, the Times duo treat their audience to a series of demeaning observations from academics. Michael A. Cusumano, a Sloan School of Management professor at M.I.T., says "I think it's going to be very difficult for them to come up with the next big thing. They've lost their heart and soul."

There's no explanation of what that even means.

Next up: a recap of iEconomy style reporting, including the idea that "a quarter of a million people had signed a petition on urging Apple to improve working conditions in the factories."

In reality, however, the 2012 petition was organized by an uninformed individual who used a website to collect social media "likes" of a slactivism idea that wasn't accurate. Even the Times had to admit that Apple had already been commissioning public reports on the issues for more than six years before someone on the Internet demanded they start doing it.

Richtel and Chen then blow through Cooks' signature accomplishments at Apple in a couple paragraphs, briefly noting that a senior advisor to President Obama praised Cook's efforts to manufacture products like the Mac Pro and source components like A-series chips, glass and sapphire screen covers in the U.S.. There's a single line of praise from Greenpeace for being "the most aggressive of the companies that we evaluated in getting renewables online."

Apple's Maiden, NC solar array

The article then segues from muted praise to unrelated accusations, first complaining that Apple employees don't donate enough money, then spending paragraphs on a right wing activist who at Apple's shareholder meeting tried to portray Cook as turning Apple in a "philanthropic-focused company" for daring to give consideration to climate change in the design of iCloud server installations, that same subject Greenpeace lauded.

WWDC: what no hardware?

If the timing of an article that basically asks "what is Cook even doing!?" seems to be strangely out of place coming immediately after what virtually every WWDC attendee has called Apple's best show for developers ever, at least Richtel and Chen do manage to shoehorn in something from the event.

Their primary WWDC takeaway, under the subhead "Lennon vs Ringo," (which accounts for about a quarter of the piece) is that Cook is Ringo Starr, whereas Jobs was John Lennon. That's because a WWDC attendee fed them that witty observation. The people who run Apple are like the Beatles.

The Times duo then paired that with a grave warning from WWDC: Apple announced a new iOS 8 app named Health, "but did not also introduce a piece of hardware to measure those results."

"It's something Steve wouldn't have done," the Times cited their WWDC attendee as saying.

Actually, Jobs released iTunes in January 2001. The iPod wasn't delivered until October 2001.