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Thursday, 18 September 2014 16:18

Tim Cook in his most revealing interview ever Featured

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American talk show host and journalist Charlie Rose sat down with enigmatic Apple CEO Tim Cook for about two hours, but what exactly did we learn about the man who has the unenviable task of following the late great Steve Jobs, and his company that is about to embark upon its biggest product release to date?

A lot, as it turns out, including some key takeaways about the Apple Watch, Cook's impression on the NSA Snowden revelations, and the circumstances under which Jobs said he should be the new CEO. The interview marks probably the most candid and revealing media interview Cook has ever done, and arguably finally puts to rest any speculation as to whether Apple's in capable hands. Below are the key quotes from the two hour conversation.

Apple Watch

“One of the reasons we announced it before shipping is so that the developers will have time to develop software for it,” said Cook, adding important tech names like Twitter and Facebook are already working on apps for the watch alongside smaller companies. Every developer will be able to write apps for the Watch once they get their hands on WatchKit.

Apple was working on the Apple Watch for three years and decided to announce it early to give developers plenty of lead time to work on specific Watch apps.

"The function of it is killer," he says of the smartwatch's computing capacity. Apple's first attempt at combining 400-500 components in a single chip. "There is a computer on a chip in here. You know, it's the first one we've ever done," he said.

“There is a wide-open field to make some really profound contributions… This is yet another way to begin to build a comprehensive view of your life.”

Taking over from Jobs

"...He called me one weekend in August 2011. And he said, 'I'd like to talk.' And I said, 'Oh, okay.' And I go 'When?' And he goes, 'Now.' I go, 'Yeah, I'll be right over," Cook said.

"And he told me — he said, 'I've been thinking a lot. Apple has never had a professional transition at CEO. I'm determined that we will have one now. I want you to be the CEO."

"And honestly, I didn't see it coming.

"I felt Steve was getting better. He was still at home, but I felt he was getting better. I was seeing him regularly. And I guess, at the end of the day, I always thought he would bounce. He always had. He had some incredible lows in his health, and it had always bounced. And I always believed he would. And so, it took me a little by surprise for that."

And where was Steve in the launches of these new products, Rose asks.

"He's in my heart. He is deep in Apple's DNA. His spirit will always be at the foundation of the company. I literally think about him every day. His office is still left as it was ... on the fourth floor. His name is still on the door."

Building a larger iPhone

"We could have done a larger iPhone years ago. It’s never been about just making a larger phone. It’s been making — it’s been about making a better phone in every single way. And so we ship things when they’re ready, and we think that both the display technology here, the battery technology, but all — but everything else and the software...

And so the ingenuity here and the fact that we’ve integrated software, hardware, and services which I think only Apple can do — this phone — now is the time for it."

On Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the surveillance state

Cook's company was one of the many implicated in Edward Snowden's leaks, showing tech companies are generally all too happy to work alongside governments at the expense of user privacy. But a correct balance between privacy and necessary surveillance against terrorists, and domestic and international threats has not yet been found, according to Cook.

"I don’t think that the country, or the government’s found the right balance. I think they erred too much on the collect everything side. And I think the [U.S.] president and the [Obama] administration is committed to kind of moving that pendulum back.

"However, you don’t want... it’s probably not right to not do anything. And so I think it’s a careful line to walk. You want to make sure you’re protecting American people. But... there’s no reason to collect information on you. But people are 99.99 percent of other people."

Apple previously said that even it can't access iMessage and FaceTime communications, stating that such messages and calls are not held in an "identifiable form."

He claimed if the government "laid a subpoena," then Apple "can't provide it." "We don't have a key... the door is closed," Cook said, reiterating "When we design a new service, we try not to collect data. We're not reading your email."

"I think that the, for us, in the Snowden thing, just to go along on that for just a moment. What we wanted, was, we wanted instantly to be totally transparent because there were rumors and things being written in the press that people had backdoors to our servers. None of that is true. Zero.

"We would never allow that to happen. They would have to cart us out in a box before we would do that."

“Our business is not based on having information about you. You're not our product. Our product are these [devices], and this watch, and Macs, and so forth. And so we run a very different company,” Cook said.

“I think everyone has to ask, how do companies make their money? Follow the money. And if they're making money mainly by collecting gobs of personal data, I think you have a right to be worried. And you should really understand what's happening to that data, and the companies — I think — should be very transparent."

The 'competition'

“Google would be at the top," Cook says, adding it would be Samsung on hardware, but that's largely because Google's Android software enables Samsung, which Cook calls the best of the Android hardware makers. Cook describes Facebook as more of a partner than a rival.

And what about online shopping monolith Amazon? We have "little relationship" with Amazon, Cook says. "And besides, it's not a product company. Apple is a product company," Cook says.

"Could that change?," Rose asks. "You'd have to ask Jeff Bezos."

Apple TV

“TV is one that we continue to have great interest in – I choose my words carefully there – TV is one of those things that, if we’re really honest, it’s stuck back in the seventies,” said Cook.

“Think about how much your life has changed, and all the things around you that has changed. And yet TV, when you go in your living room to watch the TV, or wherever it might be, it almost feels like you’re rewinding the clock and you’ve entered a time capsule and you’re going backwards. The interface is terrible. I mean, it’s awful!”

China and other emerging markets

"If you look back at the last year, our business in greater China is about 30 billion. And to my knowledge, that’s larger than any American company; certainly in technology, maybe the largest of any, period. We’ve put a lot of energy in there for years, we’ve had very fast growth.

"But… ultimately what’s causing that is, you have a significant number of people moving into the middle class. Large numbers, unprecedented large numbers. This is also happening in Brazil, it’s happening in Turkey, it’s happening in Thailand, it’s happening in Malaysia—it’s happening in many different places. Indonesia’s beginning, it’s at a different place in that curve.

"Certainly, income is a gating factor. But there’s a lot of retailers that will allow smartphones to be paid for over time. In China, there’s a subsidy on smartphones if you sign a contract, much like the United States. And so there are ways to make it more affordable.

"Also, this is iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but we also sell iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, and all of these just got lower prices on Tuesday… You will find that in emerging markets the mix of product sales are sometimes different in those markets versus other markets."

Beats

Cook said one night he tried the Beats subscription service, after trying a few other competing products. “All of a sudden it dawns on me that when I listen to theirs for awhile, I feel completely different. And the reason is that they recognized that human curation was important in the subscription service — that the sequencing of songs that you listen to affect how you feel", adding he was so excited that he couldn’t sleep that night.

The IBM partnership

"I think, IBM is, that’s a great one to talk about for mine because I think it will give you an insight into how we look at things and we — this is probably different than the past. We look at these products and the iPads that aren’t here and we think we can change the way people work.

"But when you get to the working environment, the change that we’ve made, to us, isn’t significant enough. And so we begin to ask ourselves why. Why haven’t we done more?

"And the real answer is in the applications. There are not enough apps that have been written for verticals, for very deep verticals, like what the airline pilot does. What the bank teller does. Down at the level of the job and so we begin to ask ourselves should we do this or should we partner or should we just forget it?"

Education

“To me, it’s the great equalizer among people,” said Cook of education, adding that one of the things that gets him out of bed in the morning is giving teachers better tools to teach and students better tools to learn. 

Apple holds university-style classes on the campuses of its manufacturing partners in Asia.

Apple’s values won’t change when he’s gone

“We’ll always contribute the most to humanity through our products. Because these products will change peoples’ lives and enable them to do things they couldn’t do before.”

Diversity

Apple, among with other tech companies like Google and Twitter, has come under fire for its poor diversity record, hiring predominately white males. Cook said in August he was "not satisfied," but that the company was "making progress."

He expanded on this in the interview when Rose asked what values were important to him personally.

"Treating people with dignity. Treating people the same. That everyone deserves a basic level of human rights, regardless of their color, regardless of their religion, regardless of their sexual orientation, regardless of their gender. That everyone deserves respect."

U2’s new album is “killer”

“Some may not love it,” he said, referencing the band’s latest album that was loaded on every iTunes account for free. “I hope they all do.”

Watch both parts of the interview via YouTube below. 

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