Mark Gurman: John Ternus on Future Apple CEO Shortlist →

Mark Gurman, writing at Bloomberg, about who could be the next CEO of Apple, assuming Tim Cook sticks around long enough for the torch to pass over Jeff Williams, who is 61 years old, just two years younger than Cook:

If Cook were to stay that long, people within Apple say, the most likely successor would be John Ternus, the hardware engineering chief. In a company whose success has always come from building category-defining gadgets, the ascension of a hardware engineering expert to the CEO job would seem logical. Ternus, who’s not yet 50, would also be more likely than other members of the executive team to stick around for a long time, potentially providing another decade or more of Cook-esque stability.

Ternus is well-liked inside Apple, and he’s earned the respect of Cook, Williams and other leaders. “Tim likes him a lot, because he can give a good presentation, he’s very mild-mannered, never puts anything into an email that is controversial and is a very reticent decision-maker,” says one person close to Apple’s executive team. “He has a lot of managerial characteristics like Tim.” Christopher Stringer, a former top Apple hardware designer, called Ternus a “trustworthy hand” who’s “never failed with any role he’s been elevated to.” Eddy Cue, the Apple executive known as Cook’s closest confidant, has privately told colleagues that Ternus should be the next CEO, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

If you’ve been paying attention to Apple events over the last few years, you will already be familiar with Ternus. He’s been the presenter for all sorts of hardware announcements. Not surprisingly, there are those at Apple who don’t love the idea, as Gurman writes:

“They got a real big problem,” a person close to Apple says. “Ternus is a great guy, but he’s honestly really junior. He comes off as just one of the guys in the room, not like a refined executive or a person in charge. Being the CEO of a multitrillion-dollar company, you better command presence in the room.” Another person says the internal criticism of Ternus is that he needs to assert himself with more force, adding that he seems to know this is where he’ll need to improve. The fundamental question, says one person close to the matter, is whether he’ll be ready to take on the role when Cook steps down.

Other names that come up include Craig Federighi, head of software engineering, a recognizable face among Apple’s biggest fans who’s known internally to be conversant on corporate issues well outside of his purview, and Deirdre O’Brien, its head of retail and a Cook confidant, according to one former executive. People close to the company consider them unlikely successors.

@BenRiceM on Mastodon:

Terrible headline suggestions:

“One good Ternus deserves another”

“Mom says it’s my Ternus to be CEO”

“How the tables have Ternus”