Is this man the next Apple CEO? Everything you need to know about John Ternus

Let Loose 2024
(Image credit: Apple)

A new report suggests that John Ternus, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Apple, is likely to take over from CEO Tim Cook when the time comes.

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, whose report is based on “several people familiar with Apple’s inner workings” — Jeff Williams, Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, was tipped to be Cook’s successor over the past few years. Although he could take over now if Cook decided to retire as soon as tomorrow, things seem to have changed regarding Apple’s long-term succession plans.

“If you asked me five years ago, it was very clear Jeff was leading the pack to become CEO,” one longtime Apple executive said, according to the report. “But the slowness to refresh the C-suite leaves a problem with who you can bring on board.”

There’s a lot of positivity towards Ternus in the Bloomberg report, with one unnamed executive describing Cook’s opinion of him. “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.”

The report also states that Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, has privately told colleagues that Ternus should be the next CEO.

Tim Cook has been Apple’s CEO since 2011 when Steve Jobs decided to step down due to poor health. Cook has since transformed the company into one that provides products and services for health, streaming content, and more. Even though he reportedly has no plans to retire for at least three years, it would be foolish for a company like Apple to not think about who the next logical choice could be as CEO.

Ternus was last seen at Apple’s ‘Let Loose’ event on May 7, announcing the new M4 iPad Pro tablets. But just who is John Ternus?

A finger in many Apple pies

Before working at Apple, John Ternus was an engineer at a company called Virtual Research Inc for several years from 1997, until he joined Apple in 2001 as part of its product design team.

He worked his way up the ladder until he was made Vice President of Hardware Engineering in 2013. In this role, which he still occupies, Ternus directly reports to Tim Cook and oversees the teams behind the iPhone, iPad, Mac, HomePod, and more.

In 2021 he was promoted again, becoming Senior Vice President of Engineering an earning a coveted spot on Apple’s Leadership page.

Ternus has appeared in several Apple keynotes over the years. He showcased several software announcements at WWDC 2017, the M3 MacBook Pro at Apple’s ‘Screaming Fast’ event, and the M4 iPad Pro at ‘Let Loose’.

Again, we’re likely years away from seeing Ternus take over from Cook, but his credentials at Apple do put him in good stead to be CEO someday. Rest assured though, whether the next CEO is Ternus or someone else — expect to see plenty of new iPhones, iPads, and more showcased at future Apple events. These will all be led by a CEO who, like Cook and Jobs, will want to try and make the world a better place, thanks in part to the company's products and services.

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Daryl Baxter
Features Editor

Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use everyday to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.

Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64 and Daily Star.