What Tim Cook's interviews revealed about the past, present, and future of Apple
Apple CEO Tim Cook was recently interviewed by both Josh Tyrangiel Bloomberg Businessweek and NBC’s Brian Williams, and though most of what was said has been heard before, there were a few notable highlights:
Apple is going to invest $100 million to bring the production of one of their Mac lines to the United States. The reason Apple doesn’t manufacture more of its products in the United States, Cook says, is due to a lack of skilled laborers.
Cook also said that TV is an “area of intense interest”, and lamented about TV being left behind as everything else has moved forward. Cook wouldn't reveal future plans, of course, but accelerating from "hobby" to "intense interest" is likely a signal. How Apple will overcome the go-to-market problems in the TV industry, as much as the hardware and software, remains a huge question.
With regards to Siri and Apple Maps, Cook claims Apple is putting its full weight behind solving the problems. Cooks candidly admitted that Apple “screwed up” with the Maps launch, not meeting their own expectations or those of their customers. However, he denied that it was a purely self-serving move that put corporate interests ahead of customer needs.
No. No, it’s not how I would characterize it. I would characterize -- well, let me back up for a minute. The reason we did Maps is we looked at this, and we said, “What does the customer want? What would be great for the customer?” We wanted to provide the customer turn-by-turn directions. We wanted to provide the customer voice integration. We wanted to provide the customer flyover. And so we had a list of things that we thought would be a great customer experience, and we couldn’t do it any other way than to do it ourselves.
Cook also avoided correlating Scott Forstall's dismissal with the issues surrounding iOS 6 Maps. Instead, he said the recent executive changes at Apple were made to help foster an increased level of collaboration at the executive level.
Cook says that Apple is committed to making iOS and OS X work together seamlessly, but that unlike Microsoft and Windows, they have no plans to merge the two.
One of the more interesting moments came when Cook said creativity wasn't a process.
I wouldn’t call it a process. Creativity is not a process, right? It’s people who care enough to keep thinking about something until they find the simplest way to do it. They keep thinking about something until they find the best way to do it. It’s caring enough to call the person who works over in this other area, because you think the two of you can do something fantastic that hasn’t been thought of before. It’s providing an environment where that feeds off each other and grows.
Steve Jobs passing away wasn't something Cook expected. Cook expected Jobs to bounce back as he had in the past. However, Jobs had prepared Cook for the role ahead, specifically by preparing him to be his own man. That happened when Jobs called Cook to his house to tell him he (Jobs) was retiring to the roll of Chairman, and nominating Cook as the new, full-time CEO.
[Steve Jobs] goes, “I never want you to ask what I would have done. Just do what’s right.” He was very clear. He was making this point, and he says, “I hope you listen to my input if I want to input on something.” I said, “Of course.” (Laughs.)
But he was so clear, and I have to tell you that it’s probably removed a tremendous burden from me that would have been there otherwise. And he repeated this much closer to his passing. I think in the second instance, I think he did that because he knew it would lift a burden. It was his way of making sure Apple would not be burdened by the past.
Along those lines, on keeping Apple going forward, and not falling into the Sony trap, Cook stuck to his focus mantra.
We’re very simple at Apple. We focus on making the world’s best products, and enriching people’s lives. I think some companies, maybe even the one that you mentioned, decided that they could do everything. We have to make sure at Apple that we stay true to focus. We know we can only do great things a few times, for a few products.
Cook wouldn't comment on the future of those products, of course, but he framed his final answer brilliantly.
Our role in life is to give you something you didn’t know you wanted, and then, once you get it, you can’t imagine your life without it.