8 things we learned from Tim Cook’s interview with Fast Company

By

As if Tim Cook doesn't already have enough on his plate!
No one is more of a believer in Apple culture than Tim Cook. Photo: Apple
Photo: Apple

Tim Cook tells how Apple avoids Microsoft-style screw-ups, how many Apple Watches the company plans to sell, and why he keeps Steve Jobs’ office exactly as he left it in a new interview filled with fascinating tidbits.

The interview in Fast Company comes in the run-up to the March 24 launch of Becoming Steve Jobs, a biography by veteran journalists Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli. The book is viewed by some Apple execs as a corrective following Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs bio, and this is Cook’s well-timed salvo in the campaign to set the record straight.

Here are the parts we found most interesting.

Apple’s about more than just big numbers

“There’s this thing in technology, almost a disease, where the definition of success is making the most,” Cook says. “How many clicks did you get, how many active users do you have, how many units did you sell? Everybody in technology seems to want big numbers. Steve never got carried away with that. He focused on making the best … That philosophy comes directly from him and it still very much permeates [Apple.] I hope that it always will.”

"You like me, you really like me!" Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac
The Apple Watch isn’t the first smartwatch, but it’s the first you’ll actually want. Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

What other smartwatch makers are getting wrong

“The inputs that work for a phone, a tablet, or a Mac don’t work as well on a smaller screen,” he says. “Most of the companies who have done smartwatches haven’t thought that through, so they’re still using pinch-to-zoom and other gestures that we created for the iPhone.”

Apple hasn’t made projections for Apple Watch sales (apparently)

“On iPhone, we set an expectation,” Cook says. “We said we’d like to get 1% of the market, 10 million phones for the first year. We put that flag in the sand, and we wound up exceeding it by a bit. On the watch we haven’t set a number. The watch needs the iPhone 5, 6, or 6 Plus to work, which creates a ceiling. But I think it’s going to do well. I’m excited about it.”

You might not know that you want an Apple Watch, but you do. Trust us. Photo: Apple
You might not know that you want an Apple Watch, but you do. Trust us. Photo: Apple

People aren’t going to realize the usefulness of the Apple Watch until they put it on

“[P]eople didn’t realize they had to have an iPod, and they really didn’t realize they had to have the iPhone,” Cook says. “And the iPad was totally panned. Critics asked, ‘Why do you need this?’ Honestly, I don’t think anything revolutionary that we have done was predicted to be a hit when released. It was only in retrospect that people could see its value. Maybe this will be received the same way.”

Steve Jobs wasn’t the crazy micromanager you think he was

“You hear these stories of him walking down a hallway and going crazy over something he sees, and yeah, those things happened,” Cook says. “But extending that story to imagine that he did everything at Apple is selling him way short. What he did more than anything was build a culture and pick a great team, that would then pick another great team, that would then pick another team, and so on … Last year, [Apple] did $200 billion worth of business. … Would the company have been able to do that if he were the micromanager that he was made out to be? Obviously not.”

A concept of what a Lightning-to-USB Type-C cable would look like.
The USB-C is just the latest in a series of bold Apple decisions.

Apple realizes the importance of walking away

“Part of the reason Microsoft ran into an issue was that they didn’t want to walk away from legacy stuff,” Cook says. “Apple has always had the discipline to make the bold decision to walk away … We changed our connector, even though many people loved the 30-pin connector. Some of these things were not popular for quite a while. But you have to be willing to lose sight of the shore and go. We still do that.”

Apple’s new campus is about creating serendipity

“It’s critical that Apple do everything it can to stay informal,” Cook says. “And one of the ways that you stay informal is to be together. One of the ways that you ensure collaboration is to make sure people run into each other—not just at the meetings that are scheduled on your calendar, but all the serendipitous stuff that happens every day in the cafeteria and walking around.”

Steve Jobs' office at Apple is as it was when he passed away.
Steve Jobs’ office at Apple is as it was when he passed away.

Steve Jobs’ office is still as it was at Apple

“I was in there with Laurene [Powell Jobs, Steve’s wife] the other day because there are still drawings on the board from the kids,” Cook says. “I took Eve [Steve’s daughter] in there over the summer and she saw some things that she had drawn on his light board years earlier. In the beginning I really didn’t personally want to go in there. It was just too much. Now I get a lot more appreciation out of going in there, even though I don’t go in very often … [H]is computer is still in there as it was, his desk is still in there as it was, he’s got a bunch of books in there.”

Source: Fast Company

Deals of the Day

  • Joe

    I wonder what they will do with Steve’s office when they move to the new campus? It would be neat to see pictures of the space before they “box it up”, so to speak.

    • MacAdvisor

      I think Apple should donate it to the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian would do a proper conservation job and then it could be put on display in a proper exhibit. Jobs once belonged to Apple and now he belongs to the world.

  • MacAdvisor

    My second job out of college was working for the Woz. In that capacity, I would often run into Jobs, mostly trying to track down Woz as he wasn’t where he was supposed to be. This was all before Apple even went public. Jobs gave me several rides in his car, often walked me over to where he (and often he alone) knew Woz was hiding out, and was very helpful. He was always a decent guy to me and I thought he had a rather wicked sense of humor. Woz was more pun and slapstick, but Jobs was more British and dry. The two were so very different one could quickly see why they made such a good team.
    I’ve heard all the horror stories, but I think Jobs mellowed considerably when he got older and vastly more when he realized he was near death. I think Pixar taught him much, too. All told, I think the world is less without him in it.

  • Michael Smith

    So much wrong with Tim Cooks view of the world, it is like he is living in a bubble.
    Usefulness of the Apple Watch? Once people put on the watch they are going to realize that they really didn’t need it after all, there is nothing compelling about a smart watch, its a shame because I bought into it too.
    Other smart watches getting it wrong? What other watches are using pinch to zoom? Android wear watch doesn’t. Unless he means the smart watch originator the iPod Nano.
    That was not an entirely bold decision to move away from the outdated 30 pin, it was a long time coming. There was no love lost on the 30 pin connector, most were happy to see the changes and the advantages of lightning even if it meant having to buy more cables and adapters. In the end it was a technical decision anyway, if Apple wanted to go any thinner with their devices they had to ditch that 30 pin.

    • Maxwell S. Overholt

      It’s a first gen product, and it hasn’t even been released yet. And the jump into wearables is something that’s been obvious—but just about to be the right time—since the 30 pin connector was released—many times in a smart fiber shirt form. It isn’t bold but it appears to be since people don’t seem to grasp it yet.

  • interesting