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ECommerceTimes.com

Cook Rearranges Apple's Executive Suite

By John P. Mello Jr.
Dec 18, 2015 12:38 PM PT
apple-chief-operating-officer-jeff-williams

Apple on Thursday announced some personnel moves that suggest CEO Tim Cook's future vision for the company.

He named Jeff Williams (pictured above) chief operating officer, elevated Johny Srouji to Apple's executive team by making him a senior vice president, broadened the powers of Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller to include supervision of Apple's App Store across all its platforms, and added Tor Myhren as the new vice president of marketing communications.

"As we come to the end of the year, we're recognizing the contributions already being made by two key executives," Cook said in a statement.

"Jeff [Williams] is hands-down the best operations executive I've ever worked with, and Johny [Srouji]'s team delivers world-class silicon designs which enable new innovations in our products year after year," he added.

Loosening Reins

Williams joined Apple in 1998 as head of worldwide procurement. In 2004 he was named vice president of operations. Since 2010, he has overseen Apple's supply chain, service and support.

Making Williams COO is a sign that Cook feels confident in loosening the reins to Apple a bit, noted Patrick Moorhead, founder and principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy.

"When you add a chief operating officer, it says that Tim Cook needs to spend more time on strategy and the future of the company and less time on day-to-day operations," he told the E-Commerce Times.

"It's a classic growth move you make when you feel comfortable about how operations are going," he said.

IP in Apple's Future

Srouji has been vice president for hardware technologies at Apple for eight years. He oversees custom silicon and technologies, such as batteries, application processors, storage controllers, sensors silicon, display silicon and other chipsets.

With Srouji's elevation to senior vice president, Apple may be recognizing the significance his role will be to the future of Apple.

"Hardware is a very important part of Apple's business," said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies.

"But it's not just hardware," he told the E-Commerce Times. "His role includes overseeing the silicon business, which to us is equally important to Apple's future."

Srouji's promotion was also a promotion of enabling technologies at Apple, Moorhead noted.

"Enabling technologies are going to be more important to Apple in developing more of its own intellectual property in the future," he said.

"This says we will see more homegrown enabling technologies from Apple," Moorhead added.

Outside Hire

Schiller now leads nearly all developer-related functions at Apple. His duties also include worldwide product marketing and international, education and business marketing.

He will be charged with advancing Apple's ecosystem, Cook said.

"In many ways, the whole app ecosystem is just an extension of Apple's marketing," Bajarin said. "It makes a lot of sense for Phil to oversee that."

The only outside move Apple made was the hiring of Myhren, chief creative officer of Grey New York, who is replacing retiring 18-year Apple veteran Hiroki Asai.

Under Myhren's leadership, Grey won Adweek's Global Agency of the Year award in 2013 and 2015.

Bringing in someone from the outside to run advertising is an interesting move, Moorhead observed.

"It's interesting that there wasn't anyone inside Apple who could have taken that role," he said.

More Changes Needed

Apple usually brings in outsiders when it doesn't have the in-house talent for an initiative. It brought in people from the outside when it planned to enter the retail market, and it did so again when designing the fashion aspects of the Apple Watch.

"I wouldn't expect them to bring in an outside guy to run advertising and merchandising because Apple has good people internally to do that," Moorhead noted.

Apple has problems that won't be addressed by appointing a new COO or advertising director, according to Trip Chowdhry, managing director for equity research at Global Equities Research.

"Apple's stock has underperformed by every metric. Investors have zero confidence in Apple's executive team," he told the E-Commerce Times.

"This reshuffling at the secondary level isn't going to make any difference," Chowdhry added, "unless the CEO, CFO and the head of the retail channel is replaced."


John Mello is a freelance technology writer and contributor to Chief Security Officer magazine. You can connect with him on Google+.


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