Tim Cook's moral center, and making 'we believe' Apple's battle-cry for the post-PC era

Steve Jobs was not only Apple's visionary, he was one of the most important cultural influencers of our time. Apple. Mac. NeXT. Pixar. iMac. iPod. iTunes. iPhone. iPad. Any one of those would be a worthy achievement. All of them, a universe denting one. But Steve Jobs is gone and Tim Cook now helms Apple. He was an operations guy, not a product guy. He didn't dream up the next world-changing product, but he did make those dreams a reality. It would be easy, natural-even, for him to continue in an operational role as CEO, but steadily, over the course of the last two years, he's been doing more than that. He's been taking on a moral role as well.

Tim Cook comes out at the beginning and end of Apple events, just as Steve Jobs did in his latter years, and where he inherited "the crossroads of technology and liberal arts" he's steadily, passionately, visibly moved Apple down the road of core values. From matching charitable donations to apologizing about maps to championing equality in employment to stating when and how Apple would put their signature on their products, Cook has brought the discussion of not only what Apple does, but how and why they do it front and center.

John Gruber of Daring Fireball called out this portion of Tim Cook's FTC memo as a sincere version of Google's "don't be evil" manta:

Apple is a company full of disruptive ideas and innovative people, who are also committed to upholding the highest moral, legal and ethical standards in everything we do. As I’ve said before, we believe technology can serve humankind’s deepest values and highest aspirations. As Apple continues to grow, there will inevitably be scrutiny and criticism along our journey. We don’t shy away from these kinds of questions, because we are confident in the integrity of our company and our coworkers.

Technology is more pervasive than ever. It's in our lives, in our homes, and even on and in our bodies more than ever. We've come to depend on it in ways previously unimaginable outside science-fiction. At the same time our trust has be challenged and maybe shattered like never before. We've been spied on, watched, listened to, read, and invaded in ways also previously unimaginable outside science-fiction. As much as we love technology, we now fear it, and not without reason.

Apple currently makes the vast majority of its money off hardware margins — the profits they accrue on the sale of iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Macs. They currently make very little money off advertising and have very little interest in brokering our data, or turning us into their products. One day that might change, but for now it paints them in stark contrast to almost all their major competitors. It's a differentiator.

Having spoken to numerous people at Apple over the years, I'm certain Tim Cook's statement is sincere, and that he's far from the only one at the company who feels this way. He and Apple are simply getting better at expressing it, and letting customers and potential customers know about it. And that could be a huge advantage for them.

If "It just works" was the battle cry against the poor user experiences of the PC-era, then "We believe" might just be the battle cry against the invasions an inhumanities of the post-PC era.

Yes, it can come off as goofy, hollow, even patronizing at times, but as long as the sentiment is sincere, and we're never given reason to doubt it, the expression can always improve.

And given the news of the last few years, what could be more important?