Apple isn’t the same company without Steve Jobs at the helm, but that’s easy to forget when looking at the company’s financial performance since its co-founder and chief visionary passed last year.
Despite questions about Apple’s ability to thrive long-term without Jobs, consumers continue to snap up the company’s latest and greatest products at remarkable, record-breaking rates.
But that doesn’t mean that a subtle shift in the way some parts of the media are treating Apple hasn’t become noticeable.
Take, for instance, the hubbub over Apple’s tax avoidance strategy. It made the cover of The New York Times this past Sunday, with the Times’ Charles Duhigg and David Kocieniewski choosing to use the world’s richest software company as an example of how “technology giants have taken advantage of tax codes written for an industrial age and ill suited to today’s digital economy.”
Combine the subjects of tax and multinational corporations and you have the makings of a dinner conversation that can fast become heated depending on the company you keep, but this isn’t the real story here.
The real story is the fact that Apple’s tax strategy is nothing new. AllThingsDigital’s Arik Hesseldahl points out that he wrote about Apple’s tax strategy a full six years ago in BusinessWeek. The Times story, he says, contains a lot of “old news.”
So what gives? While it could be argued that Apple is a target simply because times are tough for governments and Apple has reached astonishing levels of success, it’s also hard not to think that some of the more recent discussions around Apple that casts the company in a more negative light — from its suppliers’ treatment of their workers to the company’s tax strategies — are easier to push because one of the most respected and enigmatic innovators of the past century is no longer the living face of Apple.
Fair or not, Apple should get used to it because while it’s clear that Tim Cook is quite comfortable being the man in charge at Apple, his company isn’t likely to get nearly as many breaks from the press going forward.