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Former iPhone engineer says Apple is no longer a ‘dynamic change-maker’

Published Jan 18th, 2017 11:28AM EST
Apple Innovation
Image: Niels Epting

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Just one week after Peter Thiel boldly proclaimed that Apple’s era of tech dominance was coming to an end, a former engineer who helped work on the iPhone echoed this same exact point of view, albeit with an insider’s perspective. During an interview with CNBC this week, Bob Burrough explained why he believes Apple is no longer the ‘dynamic change-maker’ it once was.

The crux of Burrough’s argument is interesting, insofar that it’s one we haven’t really seen before. As Burrough tells it, Apple during the Steve Jobs era was no stranger to conflict and organized chaos. The end result, Burrough says, was a culture that fostered creativity and allowed innovation to flourish.

With Tim Cook now running things, Burrough argues that Apple may have become a more amiable place to work but that the spark of innovation that characterized Apple under Jobs is no longer present.

“At Apple in 2007, organizationally it was the wild west,” Burrough explains. “I was hired under a particular manager, but for the first two years worked on projects that had virtually nothing to do with that manager’s core responsibility. That’s because the organization wasn’t the priority, the projects were the priority.

“It was the exact opposite of ‘not my job”, Burrough added. “It was ‘I’m here to solve whatever problems I can, irrespective of my role, my title, or to whom I report.’ It was wild. But it was also very rewarding, because everything you did had maximal impact on the product.”

Not stopping there, Burrough late on Tuesday night took to Twitter where he bemoaned the current state of Apple in 140 character increments.

Burrough also referenced Tim Cook’s firing of Scott Forstall, an executive who, according to reports, didn’t exactly get along with the rest of Apple’s upper tier of executives.

“Tim Cook fired Scott Forstall and aligned the executive staff so as to have peace… which is to say there is no conflict,” Burrough said. “Executives aren’t competing with each other anymore. And, Tim’s message was loud and clear: ‘Don’t bring me conflict.’ The result is the conflict is pushed lower in the organization. The proportion of middle managers has exploded.”

You can check out Burrough’s full tweetstorm over here.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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