Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman is out with a new report which puts the spotlight on Apple’s new design chief and COO Jeff Williams. The report states that after Tim Cook, Williams is the “second-most important person” at Apple and that he is possibly the company’s next CEO.
Williams is very much unlike Steve Jobs and similar to Tim Cook: a person known for his operational efficiency.
Several current and former colleagues, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly, say that during his years as the company’s operations chief, Cook’s old job, Williams has distinguished himself as a modest, disciplined, demanding leader in the current CEO’s style.
As the COO of Apple, Williams has negotiated with many of Apple’s suppliers and some say that he has had a bigger role to play in product development than Cook. He attends weekly reviews of the product and industrial design and then provides Cook with a briefing for a final go-ahead.
The report also contains an interesting tidbit about “Jeff Review.”
Williams now oversees the development of all Apple hardware products, holding weekly meetings to gauge their progress. Although the process is formally called NPR, or New Product Review, some employees call this the “Jeff Review.” During the development of the AirPods, some of them noticed that Williams continued wearing Apple’s wired headphones instead of the new product. Williams wasn’t yet happy with the fit of the wireless model.
Williams led the development of Apple Watch and handled a major issue with the wearable months before its release.
The Watch has been Williams’s biggest test. Months before the first model’s release in 2015, some employees testing the device began having allergic reactions to the type of nickel used in its casing, a not-uncommon issue with wristwear. Williams made the call to scrap thousands of Watches the company had already produced and ramp up a separate manufacturing line with a different kind of nickel.
There was another issue with the taptic engine of the Apple Watch. The parts were prone to long-term failure and Williams took the decision to not sell the initial batch produced. These units were instead given to Apple employees.
It is unlikely that Apple is looking to replace Cook as its CEO anytime soon. However, with Williams around, the company has seemingly already found its successor.
From the report, its clear that Williams is more like Tim Cook and unlike Steve Jobs. If you were hoping that Apple’s next CEO would possibly be as visionary as Jobs, it does not look like that’s going to happen.