Amazon vs. Apple: Jeff Bezos Just Squashed Tim Cook

Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

I’ll let’s Chris Ciaccia very ably provide the details but, if it wasn’t already obvious, CEO Jeff Bezos proved thatApple will slowly morph from greatness to just being good in the absence of Steve Jobs.

Jeff Bezos pulled the tech equivalent of peppering a backup goaltender with hockey pucks as he introduced Kindle after Kindle with feature after feature, bell after bell, and whistle after whistle in Santa Monica. It’s as if Tim Cook stepped in for starter Steve Jobs and Bezos told the defense to blitz on every play.

No matter what Apple’s forthcoming iPhone 5 event brings, there’s no way Cook was prepared for what Bezos threw at him on Thursday.

For the past year, I have argued that Amazon has no interest in competing against Apple. I was probably correct, but I did miss something critical.

Jeff Bezos wanted no part of a competition against Apple when Steve Jobs was alive. Now, Bezos has decided to pounce, with full force, on Apple when it’s most vulnerable.

In the short term, it doesn’t seem sensible to classify Apple as “vulnerable.” But move beyond the immediate pipeline and it’s clear — this company simply cannot triumph product after product as it did under Jobs’ leadership.

Just use Apple TV as a case in point.

As I explained most recently in mid-August, Tim Cook has no idea how to move forward with Apple TV. On Thursday, Bloomberg, for all intents and purposes, confirmed my speculation. It reports that, while it might have the design down, Apple can’t seem to get anywhere with the old-guard media on content and delivery.

Simply put, television executives saw what happened with iTunes. They’re not about to end up like the music industry.

With Jobs at the negotiating table, Apple might have had a fighting chance. Under Cook, it’s left with a downright pathetic decision to make: Do we produce a glorified DVR player or continue to delay this product?

Apple TV should probably end up where Jobs probably wishes Ping did: On the cutting-room floor.

Steve Jobs claimed he had the living room figured out. It appears he moved the furniture around and turned the lights off on Cook before he left.

Think of Apple TV as a poster child for what has happened to the DNA of this company. Apple pays a dividend. It misses a quarter. It airs and pulls lame retail ads. It overhauls Apple Store staff, only to reverse that decision, as well. It’s all evidence of a company losing the way that made it beyond great.

The “A” player left the team. As much as I love the Big Man, Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band hums along stronger than ever even after the death of saxophonist Clarence Clemons. While I would not call him a “B” player, you can replace Clemons but not Springsteen. That’s the way you have to view practically everybody else in the world, let alone within Apple, against Steve Jobs.

Everybody except Jeff Bezos, of course.

As Bezos produced hit after hit at Amazon’s event Thursday, Eric Savitz of Forbes tweeted:

@savitz 40 minutes into the Amazon launch today, Jeff Bezos is still the only one to appear on stage. Is he the new Steve Jobs?

My response: Yes. He has been for some time.

In fact, the two men have probably been equals all along. Bezos weaves genius like only Jobs could.

Consider this stepped-up competition. It's still secondary to Amazon’s core and winning long-term strategy.

Bezos said all the right things on Thursday:

We don’t produce gadgets, we create services.

We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy them.

That’s the type of talk that separates Amazon from practically everybody in tech today, including a Tim Cook-led Apple.

Miraculously, Bezos’ leadership has helped Amazon maintain the unwavering tunnel vision of a startup for more than a decade. Practically everything Amazon does exists to not only drive revenue to its core, but situate it for long-term — measured in decades, not years — profitability. Amazon responds to nobody. It dictates the flow of the spaces it chooses to run in, keeping hyper-focus on e-commerce.

Meantime, Apple prepares to coattail on the only remaining parts of Steve Jobs’ legacy it can as the company prepares to launch another iPhone.

From there, Tim Cook introduces the first product not approved by Steve Jobs. In fact, the last we heard Jobs despised the idea. A mini-iPad.

Before the year’s up, we’ll watch Apple react as opposed to act. That should scare you as an Apple fan. It frightens me, particularly after watching the Jobsian-style show Jeff Bezos put on.

—By Contributor Rocco Pendola

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At the time publication, Rocco Pendola held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this article.