Apple at an inflection point: Tripp Mickle delivers for the Wall Street Journal

A reporter better known for snark and Apple FUD has pulled together several threads of change into a coherent corporate narrative.


From “Apple Shake-Up Sets Shift In Strategy” in today’s Journal ($)

The changes, which can be traced back to last year, have included high-profile hires, noteworthy departures, meaningful promotions and consequential restructurings. They have rattled rank-and-file employees unaccustomed to frequent leadership changes and led Apple to put several projects on hold while new managers are given a chance to reassess priorities, according to people familiar with the matter.

The primary reasons for the shifts vary by division. But collectively, they reflect Apple’s efforts to transition from an iPhone-driven company into one where growth flows from services and potentially transformative technologies.

Leadership moves of the past few months include promoting artificial intelligence chief John Giannandrea to the executive team; replacing departing retail chief Angela Ahrendts with head of human resources Deirdre O’Brien; and pushing out top Siri voice-assistant executive Bill Stasior.

Apple has also trimmed 200 staffers from its autonomous-vehicle project, and is redirecting much of the engineering resources in its services business, led by Eddy Cue, into efforts around Hollywood programming.

“This is a sign the company is trying to get the formula right for the next decade,” said Gene Munster, a longtime Apple analyst and managing partner at venture-capital firm Loup Ventures. “Technology is evolving, and they need to continue to tweak their structure to be sure they’re on the right curve.”

The changes, along with Apple’s recent sales woes, have become conversation fodder for current and ex-Apple employees, partly because they are among the most pronounced since Tim Cook’s early years as chief executive. Retail chief Ron Johnson left shortly before Mr. Cook took over in 2011, and mobile software executive Scott Forstall was dismissed a year later. Their departures led to the hiring of Ms. Ahrendts, the elevation of Craig Federighi to the top software job and Mr. Cue’s assumption of responsibility for several services, creating an 11-person executive team that remained largely unchanged for five years.

My take: An impressive piece of work. One sour note:

Sales of its latest gadgets—Apple Watch, AirPods and HomePod—have been mixed.

Hey, two out of three ain’t bad.