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Apple names Jeff Williams as first operating chief since Cook became CEO

The company also named a new head of hardware technologies and expanded the role of its marketing chief, Phil Schiller.

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Apple named Jeff Williams as its first operating chief since CEO Tim Cook held the role.

Apple

Apple's got a new chief of operations, its first since CEO Tim Cook held the role.

The Cupertino, California, company on Thursday named Jeff Williams as chief operating officer. Former CEO Steve Jobs had appointed Cook to that role before naming Cook as his replacement when Jobs became ill.

Apple has said it has a succession plan in place for the next CEO after Cook, but it hasn't publicly revealed its plans. The Wall Street Journal, citing an unnamed senior executive at the company, said "the move isn't necessarily a sign that Mr. Williams is the heir apparent to Mr. Cook...many members of the current executive team have what it takes to be the future CEO."

"Jeff is hands down the best operations executive I've ever worked with," Cook said in a statement. Apple declined to comment beyond its press release.

Johny Srouji, a top semiconductor executive at the company, also joined Apple's executive team as senior vice president for hardware technologies. And Apple expanded the role of Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, to include oversight of the company's App Store. Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet software and services, previously oversaw the App Store, along with iTunes, Apple Pay and Apple Music.

The company also hired Tor Myhren, chief creative officer of advertising firm Grey Group, as vice president of marketing communications, reporting to Cook. Myhren will lead Apple's advertising push.

The appointments come at a key time for Apple. The iPhone 6, introduced last year, made it the most profitable company in the world, but some worry about Apple's reliance on its smartphones. About two-thirds of its revenue now comes from the phone, and its new product lines, such as the Apple Watch and Apple Music, haven't yet become blockbusters for the company.

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Apple made Johny Srouji its senior vice president of hardware technologies.

Apple

Williams, Apple's senior vice president of operations since mid-2010, has been referred to as Apple CEO Tim Cook's "go-to guy" and "Tim Cook's Tim Cook." He oversees Apple's massive supply chain and device production, including the company's relationship with Chinese manufacturer Foxconn. It's up to Williams to make sure devices ship on time and meet demand.

Williams joined Apple in 1998 as head of worldwide procurement and was promoted to vice president of operations in 2004. In 2007, he "played a significant role in Apple's entry into the mobile phone market with the launch of the iPhone," Apple said on its executive leadership page.

Williams also recently added another role to his resume: head of Apple Watch development. The smartwatch, which costs from $349 to $17,000 and hit the market in April, marked Apple's first new product category since the iPad in 2010.

Srouji, meanwhile, joined Apple in 2008 to lead development of the A4 chip, the first processor Apple had designed. During his time at the company, he has overseen "breakthrough custom silicon and hardware technologies including batteries, application processors, storage controllers, sensors silicon, display silicon and other chipsets across Apple's entire product line," the company said.