Jeff Williams and the continued success of Apple's ops team

Jeff Williams, senior vice president of operations at Apple, took over day-to-day leadership of the ops team following Tim Cook's transition from Chief Operating Officer (COO) to Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Since then Apple has shipped a flabbergasting number of iPhones, a huge number of Macs and iPads, and started ramping up to ship the first batch of Apple Watches. To say Williams runs the best ops team in the business does him and them a disservice — No one else even comes close. That's no dount why he's getting some much-deserved attention following Apple's blow-out Q1 2015 results. Neil Cybart, writing for Above Avalon:

One thing became abundantly clear after analyzing Apple's recent earnings report: Jeff Williams is doing a phenomenal job. As senior vice president of Operations, Williams is tasked with making sure the Apple machine is well-oiled and in tip-top shape, not only capable of producing more than 100 million iOS devices in a quarter, but building flexibility into the system to handle annual hardware updates that would make most hardware companies quiver with fear.

John Gruber, writing for Daring Fireball:

First, in terms of iPhone operations and considering nothing else, Jeff Williams has clearly done an amazing job. Apple sold a record 74 million iPhones last quarter, and though the company doesn't break that down by models for competitive reasons, everyone knows that a huge chunk of those were the brand-new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. They were supply-constrained on both models, particularly the 6 Plus, but only by a few weeks. Operationally Apple did an incredible job meeting demand for iPhones — they sold more than ever but were less supply-constrained than in the last few launch quarters. For context, in 2008, Apple sold a total 10 million iPhones for the entire year. All credit to the hardware, software, and product marketing teams for the fact that 74 million people wanted to buy an iPhone last quarter. But the credit goes to Williams's operations team that there were 74 million units available to sell.

There was a story, I believe passed along by Gruber, about how someone asked how the original iPad came to be, and the answer they got was Steve Jobs. When they asked how it came to cost only $500, the answer they got was Tim Cook. Today, Jeff Williams is running the Apple Watch team, and when it comes costing only $349, he'll be a huge part of that answer.

Behind Tim Cook's mantra of "making the great products" is Apple's ability to make customers believe they're getting value far beyond the cost. Part of that value equation, now like then, is thanks to the ops team, and at a scale that dwarfs anything else we've ever seen before.

For that, Jeff Williams and his entire org deserves not only a ton of attention, but ton of credit as well.

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

6 Comments
  • Contrasted against the constantly in stock / out of stock / vanishing Nexus 5 and Nexus 6. Sent from the iMore App
  • Tim gets a lot of credit for Jeff's earlier work. For example, it was Jeff that did the mega purchase of RAM back in the early days of the iPod / iPhone - Tim is often credited with that sort of thing.
  • I don't really get this sort of praise. Samsung shipped far more phones globally in 2014 and tied Apple for Q4. Was Samsung's supply constrained? I realize Apple is pushing the envelope on technology and manufacturing, but I just had to play Devil's advocate here. BTW, I am on my 6th iphone, an iPhone 6+...
  • People should be able to praise or criticise apple without immediately being called either an apple fanboy. Or an ihater. Sent from the iMore App
  • Toyota also sold more cars than BMW. Like the latter, Apple isn't trying to compete in every possible category and price point. Just sayin'..
  • So who's responsible for 1GB RAM in iPhone 6 and keeping 16GB storage tier?