Walter Isaacson: ‘Steve Jobs said Tim Cook’s not a product guy’

Mitchel Broussard for MacRumors:

“Particularly, Jobs was said to have criticized current Apple CEO Tim Cook for not being a “product person.” According to Isaacson, “Steve says how Tim Cook can do everything, and then he looked at me and said, ‘Tim’s not a product person.'”

“Isaacson said that he wanted to soften certain things that he thought were too harsh in his biography of Steve Jobs. The book first launched in October 2011, just 19 days after Jobs died from pancreatic cancer.

“Sometimes when Steve was in pain … and he was angry, he would say more things that [Cook] was not a product person,” recalled Isaacson. “I felt I would put in the specific things that were relevant to the reader but not the complaints.”

MacDailyNews Take: Tim Cook must be feeling the heat as the negative narrative grows, though Isaacson’s biography was far from insanely great.


  1. Walter spoke the truth. He has held back for a very long time. He is very correct about the TV with end to end integration and content and the camera. Jony Ives designed a special Lecia camera.Walter knows that Steve Jobs would be disgusted with the state of Apple and the upcoming Apple TV plus. Apple is looking to be lost now. Yes Tim is feeling the heat. The fact that Walter said “did you noticed Jony dd not say a thing about the rebute to the WSJ article that Tim Cook wrote” and how he said it would be nice if Tim Cook visited the design center at least once a week. And the last great product Apple has had int he past 15 years ( I think he meant 10 years was the Apple building. I have owned Apple shares since 2002 but I think that Apple is entering a dark age whereas Tim Cook will reside over a flat to faltering Apple. And will eventually leave. Same as Microsoft. It is becoming apparent that Tim has wasted the greatest tech fortune ever made on stock buybacks and lack the courage for innovation.

  2. Cook is like everyone else. He’s got strengths and weaknesses. I can’t help but get that knowing a good, well, designed, Important product from a piece of crap is not one of his strengths. I believe that he’s like most people in that respect. He relies on the people of Apple to say, this is a good product. Then he works on getting it to market. When the market turns around and says its crap, he has no idea why.

    1. And yet products & vision would seem to be the singularly most important virtue he should have in spades to be an Apple CEO. Why would you want an Apple CEO to be any less? Tim Cook is another rare Steve Jobs judgment failure. Putting Tim Cook in charge erodes Apple specialness in the tech world.

  3. Steve wasn’t stupid. If he admitted to Walter that Tim wasn’t a product guy yet still hand picked him to guide Apple forward then he must have believed the leaders within Apple who are product guys (Jony, Phil…) would be the ones to ensure future product innovation (allowing Tim to do ‘everything else’). I think Tim is doing exactly what Steve expected him to do. It’s the others that are failing Apple right now.

  4. Walter wrote a second rate biography of Steve – basically phoned it in. He “researched” most of his material from blogs and reorganized and reworded them. I’d read it all before the book release.

    He had Carte Blanche to interview anyone he wanted and neglected to do so.

    Why this qualifies him to have an opinion about what Apple should have done is beyond me. Markets change and Apple has to make adjustments. Steve handpicked Tim and stood behind him 100%. He instructed Tim to do what was right, not “what Steve might have wanted”.
    Walter needs to take the same bus out of town that John Sculley is on.

    1. WELL SAID!!!
      Isaacson’s book is boring, banal rubbish. I was SO looking forward to it. I kept thinking, “It’s going to get better, any time now.” Eventually I realized it wasn’t going to get any better and gave up, about 1/3rd of the way through.

      No insight. Might as well have read a phone book. He went over here. Then he went over there. Then he had a meeting. Then he visited this department. Then he had another meeting.

      I don’t think Isaacson has anything of value to say about Apple or Steve.

      1. NO fanboys grande deflection specialists, the story is about this quote:

        “then he looked at me and said, ‘Tim’s not a product person.’”

        Has nothing to do with a sidetrack book review. Please try to keep up…

        1. Steve Jobs possibly thought that Cook wasn’t a product person. Possibly.

          Steve Jobs certainly promoted Cook as his successor as CEO. Certainly.

          Please try to keep up.

          1. “Steve Jobs possibly thought that Cook wasn’t a product person. Possibly.”

            Steve Jobs, “Tim’s not a product person.’”

            Fanboy deflective OPINION does not cut it, brainless.

            PLEASE TRY TO KEEP UP…

  5. His biography of Jobs was without spirit and lacked the gravity proportionate to the mass of the human being he was tasked with illuminating. I really can’t believe he could take the material he had and the access he was given and publish such a soulless account of a human being’s life. Seriously, I think I could interview ANYONE on the planet for 50 hours and come up with something that might connect a reader to a story worth consuming — something that might gain you some insight into the reasons for the choices. The regrets, the heartaches, and the pride in what they’d done. The one recurring thought I had the entire time I read it was that Isaacson was so consumed with not being taken in by the so-called “reality distortion field” that he created one of his own to deprive us all of Steve’s humanity. Terrible book. I learned almost nothing. And, for the reasons stated, his opinions on Apple or anything else really matter very little to me.

  6. Effectively Apple has been CEO rudderless since Stev Jobs died and it shows. Sometime in spectacularly incompetent ways as in the case of the mismanaged Mac Pro.

    It’s much easier to find someone competent to do Tim Cook’s old job than it is to find another CEO like Steve Jobs.

  7. Cook is a competent CEO. What he isn’t is someone who is singularly focused on building insanely great products for his customers. He may think he is but he isn’t. 2 proofs. 1. We know why too much of Cook’s politics. Unlike Jobs, Cook uses his position at Apple to advance other agendas. This is fine to do, but it isn’t singularly focused. 2. Who has Cook fired other than Scott F? Jobs fired folks for not producing. Cook doesn’t. Too nice to be singularly focused and demanding of others to be so as well.

  8. Cook is a good CEO but he isn’t singularly focused on building insanely great products for his customers like Steve was. Two reasons as proof. First, we know too much about Cook’s politics. He has chosen to use his position at Apple to advance political and social issues that are important to him. Second, Cook hasn’t fired anyone since Scott F for screwing up something. Jobs got the most out of people in part by driving them to do their best or get canned. Cook is too nice.

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