I pick that number as it's what Apple revenue could conceivably reach during 2011, all with Tim Cook -- and not Steve Jobs -- running the company.
Late this afternoon, Apple's board of directors named Cook the company's new chief executive after cofounder Steve Jobs' stunning and unexpected resignation. In 1996, Apple was near financial collapse.
Then, right near year's end, Apple unexpectedly bought Jobs' NeXT Computer company, bringing back a cofounder ousted during a 1985 boardroom coup. The following year, Apple released the trendy translucent iMac and showed a promising rebound until summer 2000, when the recession smacked most tech companies. Apple shares collapsed.
Meanwhile, Apple pushed ahead with investments, with four in 2001 that would be foundational for major products available today. They were, in order of 2001 launch: iTunes, Mac OS X, Apple retail stores and iPod. Still, eight years ago, Apple shares traded in the doldrums. On Jan. 7, 2003, when Merrill Lynch recommend "sell" on Apple, shares traded for $14.85.
Not coincidentally, Cook, who joined Apple in 1998, assumed the chief operating officer's role in October 2005. In some ways -- and, please, Mac Fanclubbers don't go on a rampage -- Jobs' next two official medical leaves turned out to be good for Apple with Cook running the company. Jobs asked to remain at Apple as chairman, and the board agreed, but never said he was returning to work.
The September 2008 stock market crash devastated Apple. During 2011, with Cook running Apple, revenues reached $53.24 billion compared to $29.2 billion during the same period in 2010, when Jobs was in charge.
Cook is an odd fit for Apple, or at least as it is perceived. According to his official Apple bio:
"Cook was vice president of Corporate Materials for Compaq and was responsible for procuring and managing all of Compaq’s product inventory. Previous to his work at Compaq, Cook was the chief operating officer of the Reseller Division at Intelligent Electronics. At Compaq he worked against Apple, particularly. Compaq is the company that successfully copied the IBM PC. The IBM PC launched in mid-1981.
A year after Compaq started selling its IBM PC clone, Apple announced the Macintosh, in January 1984. Compaq's clone allowed Windows to spread far and wide, and as the man responsible for managing Compaq's product inventory, Cook's work helped Windows PCs to eventually crush Macs.
So what's the answer to the question "Who is Tim Cook?" He is the man most responsible for Apple's recent market and financial success. He is a logistics genius, who has made Apple's manufacturing and supply chain one of the world's most efficient.
He is the tactician who took risky bets pricing Apple products high, thus preserving margins and establishing a premium brand. He is the person most responsible for the quality of Apple products and the company's uncanny success managing inventories and securing components at hugely favorable prices.
But he's not Steve Jobs. Cook is the right alter-ego to Jobs. Cook is the right man to run that Apple.
Who is Tim Cook? Apple's New CEO 2011