But he wasn't talking about whizzy new products like the iPhone or iPad. Cook's expertise is in operations -- in the supply chain that produces those iPhones and iPads.
"The number of turns he did on the inventory was amazing," said Fadell, by way of example. "That's a kind of innovation."
As if to underscore that point, Bloomberg's Adam Satariano posted a long piece Wednesday about the record $10.5 billion in capital expenditures that Apple has earmarked in fiscal 2014 for things like aluminum milling machines, laser polishers and industrial robots.
"Apple deploys capital as a competitive advantage," says Asymco's Horace Dediu, who produced the attached chart comparing what Apple and Samsung each spend in a year with what the U.S. Navy spends in a dozen year to build a single aircraft carrier.
One of Dediu's commentators, writing under pseudonym Glaurung-Quena (literally, "dragon queen"), explained with admirable clarity what Tim Cook is up to:
Samsung owns big chunks of their supply chain -- if I recall correctly, they have their own fabs, they make their own screens, and probably a bunch of other parts too.
Apple doesn't own their supply chain outright -- they don't want to be in the semiconductor or screen making business, they don't want to have a camera or battery factory on their balance sheet.
But they want the control and vertical integration that Samsung enjoys. So they are signing oodles of partnership agreements and buying gobs of machine tools. Apple goes to a supplier and says, "Here is money to build a new factory building. Here, fill it with these machine tools that we own. Now what you make in this factory you will sell to us and only to us." And that company, or a branch of it, becomes Apple's indentured servant. Apple gets all the benefits and none of the liabilities of being a vertically integrated conglomerate.
And they're doing this across their entire supply chain -- from screens (sharp's IGZO tech) to those aluminum enclosures, about the only part that they aren't doing this with (yet) are the chips, and it's only a matter of time before they pay someone to build and operate fabs for them.
At $2.13 million per full-time equivalent, Apple towers over other tech companies.
Source: ISI Group. Click to enlarge.
FORTUNE -- In his note to clients Thursday, ISI's Brian Marshall highlighted two "nuggets" from the 88-page Form 10-K that Apple released late Wednesday:
Apple's $11 billion in projected capital expenditures for fiscal 2014. That, he notes, is a double-digit increase from a company that was already "the single largest CapEx spender" in Marshall's "Big MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 31, 2013 10:39 AM ET
Let's clear up some confusion about a closely watched number in Apple's 10-K.
FORTUNE -- There was a frisson of excitement among Apple (AAPL) analysts Wednesday when they discovered in the company's annual 10-K report that capital expenditures for fiscal 2014 are forecast to be $11 billion, $4 billion more than than the $7 billion Apple spent in fiscal 2013.
Apple's CapEx -- its spending on product tooling, manufacturing process equipment, corporate MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 31, 2013 8:28 AM ET
CapEx spending is up 9 fold in 3 years, the bulk on equipment for a few key suppliers
When Apple (AAPL) reports an uptick in its cash and marketable securities holdings -- up $5.4 billion to $81.6 billion last quarter -- Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi can usually be counted on to call for the company to return some of that cash to the shareholders (70% of whom happen to be institutions like MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 15, 2011 8:12 AM ET
A huge uptick in planned spending has analysts scratching their heads
Once a year in its Form 10-K Apple (AAPL) reveals to the SEC -- and to investors -- how much it has set aside in the year ahead for so-called CapEx -- capital expenditures on land, buildings, machinery, equipment and leasehold improvements (i.e. retail stores).
In that regard, the 10-K the company filed last week was a doozy:
The Company anticipates utilizing MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 3, 2011 11:37 AM ET
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