The Best Quotes From Tim Cook’s Incredible Businessweek Interview [Round-Up]

The Best Quotes From Tim Cook’s Incredible Businessweek Interview [Round-Up]

Tim Cook sat down with Bloomberg Businessweek for a massive 11-page interview. It’s incredible reading, well worth going through in total, but here are the best bits and quotes, ranging everywhere from Apple’s patriotism, to why Scott Forstall was fired, the future of the Mac, how Apple plans on fixing iOS 6 Maps, and much, much, much more.

On Why Apple Creates

In creating these great products we focus on enriching people’s lives—a higher cause for the product. These are the macro things that drive the company.

On Charity

My own personal philosophy on giving is best stated in a [John F.] Kennedy quote, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” I have always believed this. Always.

On Why Apple Is Getting More Transparent About Suppliers

It’s a recognition that we need to be supersecretive in one part about our products and our road maps. But there are other areas where we will be completely transparent so we can make the biggest difference. That’s kind of the way we look at it.

On His Privacy

I’m not a person that puts value in being recognized. This doesn’t drive me. I am driven by great work and seeing people do incredible things and having a part in that.

On His First Day At Apple

With Apple, my first day at work I crossed a picket line to get in the building! There was a picket line of customers who were protesting, because Steve had decided to kill the Newton device. And it was because they cared so deeply about it. And I thought, “This is amazing.”

On Why Apple’s Profitability

You know, we want to really enrich people’s lives at the end of the day, not just make money. Making money might be a byproduct, but it’s not our North Star.

On How It’s Not Over For The Mac Yet

We’re fortunate. We find ourselves in two markets right now that are extremely fast-growing and extremely large—that’s the phone space and the tablet space. The PC space is also large, but the market itself isn’t growing. However, our share of it is relatively low, so there’s a lot of headroom for us.

On Apple’s Innovativeness

Creativity and innovation are something you can’t flowchart out. Some things you can, and we do, and we’re very disciplined in those areas. But creativity isn’t one of those. A lot of companies have innovation departments, and this is always a sign that something is wrong when you have a VP of innovation or something. You know, put a for-sale sign on the door. (Laughs.)

On Apple’s Last iPhone 5 And iPad Events

Eighty percent of our revenues are from products that didn’t exist 60 days ago. Is there any other company that would do that?

Politely Speaking On Why John Browett And Scott Forstall Were Fired

You have to be an A-plus at collaboration. And so the changes that we made get us to a whole new level of collaboration.

On Jony Ive Taking Over Interface Design

The face of this is the software, right? And the face of this iPad is the software. So it’s saying, Jony has done a remarkable job leading our hardware design, so let’s also have Jony responsible for the software and the look and feel of the software, not the underlying architecture and so forth, but the look and feel.

On Whether iOS And OS X Will Eventually Run The Same Operating System

We don’t subscribe to the vision that the OS for iPhones and iPads should be the same as Mac… Customers want iOS and Mac OS X to work together seamlessly, not to be the same, but to work together seamlessly.

On Company Politics (Possibly Also Referencing Scott Forstall)

I despise politics. There is no room for it in a company. My life is going to be way too short to deal with that. No bureaucracy. We want this fast-moving, agile company where there are no politics, no agendas.

On Why Apple Executives Personally Interactive With Customers

Not allowing yourself to become insular is very important—maybe the most important thing, I think, as a CEO. Now fortunately, I think it would be really hard for a CEO of Apple to become insular, but maybe it could happen. I don’t know. But between customers and employees and the press, you get a lot of feedback. The bigger thing is processing and deciding what to put in the distraction category vs. where the nuggets are.

On Why iPad Is Winning The Tablet War

Certainly the data that I’m seeing suggests—and this is all third-party data—that over 90 percent of the Web-browsing traffic from tablets are from iPad… Since these statistics do not correlate with unit sales, it suggests to me that the iPad user experience is so far above the competition. The iPad has become a part of their lives, instead of a product that they buy and place in a drawer.

On Why He Thinks Tablet Makers Are Missing The Mark

What I see, for me, is that some of these are confusing, multiple OSs with multiple UIs [user interfaces]. They steer away from simplicity. We think the customer wants all the clutter removed. We want the customer to be at the center of everything. I think when you start toggling back and forth between OSs and UIs, etc., I don’t think that’s what customers are looking for

Why Cheap Tablets Aren’t Enough

But what I strongly believe is that many people that are doing so might feel good initially if they pay a low price, but will bring it home and start to use it, and they’re no longer satisfied. That good feeling is gone. And those people don’t repeat purchases.

On Why “Fair Price” Is Better Than Cheap

A great product doesn’t mean an expensive product. It means a fair price… We think about the product and making a great product that we want to use. When we can do that and achieve another price point, that’s great.

On iOS 6 Maps’ Failure

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 How Apple Will Fix Maps

We’re putting all of our energy into making it right. And we have already had several software updates. We’ve got a huge plan to make it even better. It will get better and better over time.

On How Apple Separates Samsung The Infringer From Samsung The Supplier

We can separate in our minds the different portions of their company. They’re a big company and have different divisions and so forth. So that’s kind of how I try to think about it… The thing that is different i[from other competitor/partners] is the added litigation burden. I hope this works out over time.

On Apple’s Committment To Worker Rights

If you look at our website, we’re publishing working hours for almost a million people across our supply chain. Nobody else is doing this. We are very much managing this at a micro level. And you know, maybe as important as that, we are training workers on their rights. We have trained 2 million people, and we’ve brought college courses to the factories where people can begin to earn their degrees.

On Apple’s Responsibility To Give Back

I do feel we have a responsibility to create jobs. I don’t think we have a responsibility to create a certain kind of job, but I think we do have a responsibility to create jobs. I think we have a responsibility to give back to the communities, to pick ways that we can do that … and not just in the U.S., but abroad as well.

On Job Creation

I’ve never thought a company’s measurement of job creation should be limited to the number of employees working directly for them. That’s a very old-time way of measuring… I think if you fairly look at it—we’ve had this estimated by other parties—we’ve created about 600,000 jobs in the U.S. They all don’t work for Apple. We’re part of a global economy.

On Breaburn Capital, Apple’s “Hedge Fund”

I wouldn’t call it a hedge fund because—at least the way I think of a hedge fund, it’s—if you look at [Braeburn's] investments you would find the most conservative investments known to man in there. (Laughs.)

On Apple’s Responsibility To Give Back

I do feel we have a responsibility to create jobs. I don’t think we have a responsibility to create a certain kind of job, but I think we do have a responsibility to create jobs. I think we have a responsibility to give back to the communities, to pick ways that we can do that … and not just in the U.S., but abroad as well.

On Job Creation

I’ve never thought a company’s measurement of job creation should be limited to the number of employees working directly for them. That’s a very old-time way of measuring… I think if you fairly look at it—we’ve had this estimated by other parties—we’ve created about 600,000 jobs in the U.S. They all don’t work for Apple. We’re part of a global economy.

On Braeburn Capital, Apple’s “Hedge Fund”

I wouldn’t call it a hedge fund because—at least the way I think of a hedge fund, it’s—if you look at [Braeburn's] investments you would find the most conservative investments known to man in there. (Laughs.)

How Steve Jobs Made Tim Cook CEO

I go over to his house, and—I still remember how he started this discussion. He said, “There has never been a professional transition at the CEO level in Apple.” He said, “Our company has done a lot of great things, but has never done this one.” The last guy is always fired, and then somebody new comes in. And he goes, “I want there to be a professional CEO transition, and I have decided, and I am recommending to the board that you be the CEO, and I’m going to be the chairman.”

On Why Steve Wanted Tim To Follow His Own Instincts

He said, “I want to make this clear. I saw what happened when Walt Disney passed away. People looked around, and they kept asking what Walt would have done.” He goes, “The business was paralyzed, and people just sat around in meetings and talked about what Walt would have done.” He goes, “I never want you to ask what I would have done. Just do what’s right.” He was very clear.

Read the whole interview for more. This is without a doubt the best interview with Tim Cook ever done.

Related
  • carloborja

    Hey John, there were repeated paragraphs in the article. Anyway, thanks for this! It’s the only article I’ve read re: Tim Cook’s interview.

  • ulyssesric

    “We screwed up,” that’s the best quote I’ve ever heard from a CEO. Any CEO.

  • ZacCoffman

    I think you may have missed maybe 2 full sentences from the entire interview.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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