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Apple CEO Tim Cook interviewed at Bloomberg Businessweek

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Bloomberg Businessweek has posted an Exclusive Interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook, its new cover story, on businessweek.com.

Last week Bloomberg Businessweek editor Josh Tyrangiel sat down with Tim Cook for nearly two hours for Cook’s most wide-ranging interview since succeeding Steve Jobs. In Cook’s first 16-months on the job, Apple has released next-generation phones and iPads, and seen its stock price rise 43%.

They also “screwed up” Apple Maps (Cook’s admission), had to mandate changes in Foxconn’s labor conditions, and Cook recently replaced two members of the senior executive team.

In this Businessweek Q&A the Apple CEO talks about how the company works now, the perception that he’s “robotic,” the marathon of litigation with Samsung, the company’s responsibility to create jobs, and Apple’s $100 million return to manufacturing in the U.S. Cook also discusses how Steve Jobs made his transition to CEO drama-free, and why he misses him.

Snippets from the interview:

On how he is generally described:

… the person you read about is robotic. There are some good things about that, perhaps. (Laughs.) Discipline comes to mind. But it sounds like there is just no emotion. People that know me, I don’t think they would say that. I certainly am not a fist-pounder. That isn’t my style. But that and emotion are two different things.”

On Apple’s remarkable year of innovation:

…no company would have done what we did this year. Think about it. We changed the vast majority of our iPhone in a day. We didn’t kind of—you know, change a little bit here or there. iPad, we changed the entire lineup in a day. The most successful product in consumer electronics history, and we change it all in a day and go with an iPad mini and a fourth-generation iPad. Who else is doing this? Eighty percent of our revenues are from products that didn’t exist 60 days ago. Is there any other company that would do that?”

On Apple Maps:

…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. We set on a course some years ago and began to do that. So it wasn’t a matter of saying, Strategically it’s important that we not work with company X. …We set out to give the customer something to provide a better experience. And the truth is it didn’t live up to our expectations. We screwed up.

On Apple’s litigation with Samsung:

… It is awkward. I hate litigation. I absolutely hate it. For us, this is about values. What we would like, in a perfect world, is for everyone to invent their own stuff. We love competition. But we want people to have their own ideas and invent their own stuff. So after lots of trying, we felt we had no other choice.

On why mobile software head Scott Forstall and retail chief John Browett were replaced:

…The key in the change that you’re referencing is my deep belief that collaboration is essential for innovation and I didn’t just start believing that. I’ve always believed that. It’s always been a core belief at Apple. Steve very deeply believed this and so how do we keep doing that and keep taking it to an even higher level? You have to be an A-plus at collaboration.

• On Apple manufacturing in the U.S.:

… It’s not known well that the engine for the iPhone and iPad is made in the U.S., and many of these are also exported the engine, the processor. The glass is made in Kentucky. And next year we are going to bring some production to the U.S. on the Mac. We’ve been working on this for a long time, and we were getting closer to it. It will happen in 2013. We’re really proud of it. We could have quickly maybe done just assembly, but it’s broader because we wanted to do something more substantial. So we’ll literally invest over $100 million. This doesn’t mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we’ll be working with people, and we’ll be investing our money.

• On how Steve Jobs made Cook’s elevation to CEO drama-free—and unburdened Apple from the past:

…He 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.

• On what others didn’t know about Steve Jobs:

…Maybe the most underappreciated thing about Steve was that he had the courage to change his mind. And you know it’s a talent.

The new issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, with this 13-page cover story, is on newsstands today, Friday, December 7.

Read [Tim Cook’s Freshman Year]

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