Apple announced a series of changes to its leadership team this morning, including, most notably, the promotion of Jeff Williams to COO, a role that had not been filled since Tim Cook became Apple CEO in 2011. Williams, who joined Apple in 1998, was named VP of Operations in 2004 and currently oversees the Apple Watch program. In addition, Apple says it’s expanding VP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller’s duties to now include running the App Store across all Apple platforms.
According to a report from The WSJ citing an unnamed senior exec, the move to appoint Williams to the COO position was more about formalizing a role he was already playing inside the company, rather than an indication that he could become Apple’s next CEO when Cook departs. There are a number of executives who could be considered for that position when the time came, they said.
“We are fortunate to have incredible depth and breadth of talent across Apple’s executive team. As we come to the end of the year, we’re recognizing the contributions already being made by two key executives,” said Cook in a statement released this morning about the changes. “Jeff is hands-down the best operations executive I’ve ever worked with, and Johny’s team delivers world-class silicon designs which enable new innovations in our products year after year.”
“In addition, Phil is taking on new responsibilities for advancing our ecosystem, led by the App Store, which has grown from a single, groundbreaking iOS store into four powerful platforms and an increasingly important part of our business,” Cook added.
The move puts Schiller in charge of nearly all developer-related functions, says Apple, which will come on top of his other marketing responsibilities, including Worldwide Product Marketing, international marketing, education and business marketing. Apple says that, in his new position, Schiller will focus on expanding Apple’s ecosystem across devices, including iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV.
Apple’s App Store platform grew significantly this past year, with the launch of an App Store for its new wearable, Apple Watch as well as the introduction of an App Store for its new Apple TV hardware. Both, however, have not yet seen the same impact in terms of breakout hits or developer traction as the original App Store did, though it’s still early days. Apple noted that more than 11 million developers now build apps for its platforms, iOS, OS X, watchOS and tvOS.
Apple also announced that Tor Myhren, the Chief Creative Officer and President at ad agency Grey New York, will join the company in Q1 2016, and will serve as Vice President of Marketing Communications, reporting to CEO Tim Cook. He’s replacing Hiroki Asai, who’s retiring after 18 years at Apple.
Also, Johny Srouji, who oversees Apple’s semiconductor business and other hardware technologies, will now be Senior Vice President for Hardware Technologies. Srouji, who joined Apple in 2008, led development for Apple’s first system on a chip, the A4.
These changes come at a time when some analysts are questioning if iPhone sales have peaked. A report this week from Raymond James, for instance, citing weaker guidance from Apple’s supply chain suppliers, said that it’s possible there will be fewer iPhone upgrades in “the coming 3 and 12 months than a year ago.” That means it may be time for Apple to shake things up, and this is certainly an interesting start at doing just that.