Tim Cook: The complete Businessweek interview

“For this week’s cover story on Apple (AAPL) and its future, I spent some time with Tim Cook, who said far more than was ever going to make it into the stor,” Sam Grobart reports for Bloomberg Businessweek. “Or even the outtakes from the story. So for even more Tim Cook, here’s the transcript of the entire interview, edited only for clarity.”

“To set the scene: We met late on a Thursday morning, two days after Cook stood onstage at Apple’s Town Hall auditorium in Cupertino, Calif.,” Grobart reports. “We sat in a not-huge conference room adjacent to Cook’s office. Cook entered, wearing a navy polo shirt and dark trousers.”

Grobart reports, “Here’s something about Cook that may tell you something: Some executives, when you go to interview them, kind of walk into the room, say ‘Hi,’ and look to you to get things going. Not Cook. He strides in with a warm smile and firm handshake and immediately starts asking questions: What did you think of Tuesday’s event? Tell me what you think about the new phones—have you had a chance to use them? That’s why this interview starts somewhat abruptly: We had already been kibitzing a bit before we actually ‘began’ the interview.”

MacDailyNews Take: Tim Cook grew up in the American South (Robertsdale, Alabama). If you’ve lived and worked in the South you know, before you start talking business, you first have an informal chat, some southern hospitality, etc. It’s a way to get to know each other and feel out possibilities for business or even personal relationships beyond the meeting at hand. This is different than many other regions of the U.S., where usually y’all’d just dive straight into the business meeting.

Some Tim Cook quotes from the interview:

• Some people see innovation as change, but we have never really seen it like that. It’s making things better. iOS 7 is a great example of that. It’s significantly better than 6 or any of those that came before it, and obviously significantly better than the other OS out there.

• You know, the first time that you buy something with your finger, it’s pretty profound. It’s one thing to use it as security. This is really cool, and a lot of people will love it, because they open their phone multiple times a day. But the buying is even a more startling experience, in a way.

• I think that Android is more fragmented than ever and, as a result, when you look at things like customer satisfaction and usage, you see the gap between Android and iOS being huge. There is a huge difference between market share of units and usage share. And it shouldn’t surprise anybody that it’s like that. Anybody that’s used both should not be surprised that that is the natural result. And that’s really important to us because we have never been about selling the most. We’re about selling the best and having the best experience and having the happiest customers. Happy generally means using more. You know, you find something you like. You do it more. And so I think that has become even more the case over the last year.

The truth is that there are more people using iOS 6 than there is any version of Android. And in days from now, iOS 7 will be the most popular mobile operating system. And so what does it really mean at the end of the day to show these share numbers and combine all of these disparate things as if they’re one thing? I’m not so sure it has a great meaning to it at the end of the day… I don’t measure our success in unit market share. So if there are a lot of $69 tablets sold that you’re just pounding on to get something to work and get some responsiveness, and it’s thick and fat and just a terrible experience, I don’t really weigh that unit of share like I do a different unit of share. I don’t weigh them to be equivalent. [Hee Haw demographic. – MDN Ed.]

• [In the tablet market] you’ve got the players down here that would say — you know, your kid is tugging at you saying, ‘Daddy, I got to have a tablet.’ And you just want to shut them up and buy something cheap. That’s not a market I’m crazy about. I’d like to convince you that the iPad is a better experience and that your kid’s going to learn a lot from using it. And the experience they’re going to have talking to their grandmother across FaceTime is unbelievable, and it’s going to change your life by doing that. I’m not trying to say “Pick me” to shut up your kid.

[A low-end segment] happens in every market that I’ve seen. Every single market. It happens in cars. It happens in all consumer electronics, from cameras to PCs to tablets to phones to—in the old world—VCRs and DVDs. I can’t think of a single consumer electronics market it doesn’t happen in. And so for companies that want to chase that, that’s fine. I’m not criticizing it, actually. I call it junk. I don’t do that in a mean way. It’s just my label for it, right? But it’s just not who we are. I refuse to be driven by a blind ambition of unit share.

Tons more in the full article – highly recommendedhere.

Related article:
Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘We’re not in the junk business’ – September 19, 2013


    1. That isn’t entirely accurate. Just because he set a goal he knew he could blow away, doesn’t mean people didnt realize it would far surpass that goal.

      Despite being so conservative, Steve still took massive flack for daring to predict any success.

      Lets just admit that even if he said .01%, they would have slammed it.

    2. For now, Apple currently holds about 8-9% of cellular phones market per year — which is (obviosly) 8-9 times more than initial Jobs’ target.

      If Apple is not going to offer $299 phone, then it will hardly ever cross 10% per year.

      1. That may be correct, if all you’re looking at is a cheap phone. But if we were to look at it from the perspective of the finest hand-held computer that happens to be a great mobile phone (and a LOT of other devices one would spend money on) then your estimate of 10% is seriously up for grabs!

      2. And that’s what apple wants.

        They don’t want 90% market share.

        They want the 10% of the 100% of the market that has all the money.

        Why get 90% market share if you make less profit than having 10%?

  1. “Some people see innovation as change, but we have never really seen it like that. It’s making things better.”

    & making things better takes an incredible effort when you have good competitors around you as the obvious things have already become mainstream.

    1. Obvious things? Everything that defines a smart phone today was invented by Apple. If things like touch screen were so obvious why weren’t they already on Blackberries and Nokia phones? They are mainstream now only because people like Google ripped them off, ignoring patents and ethics. It’s to the point now where the Fandroid crowd thinks these are industry standard FRAND patents, WHICH IS NOT THE CASE!

  2. He sounds like an emulation of Jobs. How long can Apple go? There aren’t any new ideas here.

    Notice how different this is. This opening weekend, we have this interview with Cook. It’s like it’s become less about the device and more about Cook and others behind it.

    It’s not clear whether this will be a distraction or not. But Apple’s become more bloated marketing wise, and less about product innovation.

    1. Where’s the innovation on Androud? You have phones with higher resolution, yet the photos they take look like crap. They have memory card slots and other features tagged onto them that their users never use. Unlike the iPhone, you’re stuck with whatever OS was on the device at time of purchase. Who do you call for tech support for your Android phone? Google, Samsung, Motorola, etc? How many iterations of the Abdroid ecosystem exist? Being so fragmented means the best you can ever hope for is; Jack of all trades, and master of none. Do you think developers like having to write 20 versions if their apps for a multitude of devices that are running on a variety of forked OS’s? Apple innovates, the rest just salivate. Buy your device of choice, I can care less. All I know is, for now I’m dedicated to Apple because I think they deliver the best, most elegant, solid stable experience. I don’t see that coming from any of the other camps. Too many people by alternatives either through ignorance, being cheap or a stupid emotional reason because they hate Apple. I know quality when I see it, and Apple’s wares have it in spades.

    2. Just because you can’t see any new ideas and can’t think of any, doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Don’t assume Apple’s lost its vision just because you don’t have any.


    3. “But Apple’s become more bloated marketing wise, and less about product innovation.”


      considering Samsung spends 4 (FOUR!) times apple in marketing worldwide and Microsoft throws money at ads (half billion for zune launch, I billion for Surface) and spends (from last stats in 2010 I have) three times apple’s ad budget (he Zune launch cost as much as Apple’s entire worldwide ad budget for everything) and yet have NOT produced a world game changer like iPod, iPhone, iPad in two decades.

      … and samsung even has spy teams filming the lines outside apple stores for marketing purpos

      — not to mention Samsung has been charged by government bodies and has admitted in the Htc lawsuit of spending marketing dollars on astro-turfers (hiring people perhaps like yourself Slimon to post in forums), fake blog reviews of rival products, etc

      and Samsung, Msft, Nokia etc have done vicious attack ads on Apple while Apple has not done any for years

      I think apple is very conservative with it’s marketing vs it’s competitors who have NOTHING, no innovation, no breakthroughs just photo copy machines and a willingness to spend ad dollars.

      1. shoot,

        I forgot to ad when talking about bloated marketing:

        remember the total dud USA Galaxy S4 launch with DANCING BOOTH BABES and dorks?

        Expensive embarrassment where the reporters thought the babes were more interesting than the phone….

        AND in INDIA Samsung it GETS WORSE, Samsung had bollywood actors and dancers at the launch:

        “At the launch party for its Galaxy S4 smartphone in India, one of the country’s Bollywood actors, Ranveer Singh, performed “Gangnam Style” as “Samsung Style” …. Singh rapping and attempting the signature “Gangnam Style” dance backed by men and women in sequined outfits. But it’s the lyrics that are the real kicker to the remake. “If you like the S3, than this phone is even better. It has an HD screen and it’s just a lot slimmer,” he belts out. “Samsung Style.”


        ????????????? yaaaaarhegh !!!!!
        who has got bloated marketing again?

  3. My only worry is that adoption of iOS 7 slows because some people don’t like the new look. I’m sure Apple will make whatever adjustments necessary if this turns out to be the case.

    1. I wouldn’t worry about that. The number of developers who are “iOS7-ifying” their apps, plus the hilariously huge number of Android apps designed to make Android phones look like iOS7, tells me people like the new look just fine, on the average.


  4. I still don’t see why people are spreading FUD about Tim Cook. Jobs chose him because he felt that he could run Apple successfully. Yes, there were some mistakes, but at least they were not major like the ones made by that clown who almost destroyed Apple back in the 1990s. And speaking about the 90s, that is just one bit of evidence that the 90s were not all that great. Those pizza Performas…never forget.

  5. Great interview. It seems like apple still approaches it’s business the way many companies did before the Gordon Gekko era. Their focus is on making the best product and providing the best experience for the customer, and allowing the results of that effort to drive the companies growth, instead the stock market mentality of chasing every penny of profit regardless of the cost to quality. The goal is to make the best product not just the most money.

      1. Yep!

        It’s a proven successful business strategy and as long as apple focuses on quality and innovation they can’t go wrong – even if they bring out afew duff products.

        If the products are duff but well designed and well built it won’t damage the apple brand customer value at all.

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