Warren Buffett: Tim Cook spent hours trying to teach me how to use my new iPhone

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett says he lacks the iPhone skills of a two-year-old despite a personal tutorial from Apple CEO Tim Cook. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is the largest stakeholder in Apple. After first investing in Apple in 2016, Berkshire Hathaway’s position in Apple was worth $73.7 billion as of Q4 2019, which is more than double the cost of the investment.

Max Zahn with Andy Serwer for Yahoo Finance:

Warren Buffett's Paper Wizard
Warren Buffett’s Paper Wizard game for Apple’s iPhone

“I went out to California, and Tim Cook very patiently spent hours trying to move me up to the level of the average two-year-old,” Buffett told Yahoo Finance’s editor-in-chief Andy Serwer in an exclusive interview on March 10 in Omaha, Nebraska. “And didn’t quite make it.”

But Buffett doesn’t hold it against Cook or his top-selling smartphone. “We had a lot of fun. He is a terrific guy,” Buffett said. “Unbelievable product.”

Buffett said he never uses apps, and even sometimes struggles to make phone calls on the device. “Yesterday, I was someplace,” he said. “Somehow I was having a little trouble just getting into — but this is only me, any two-year-old could do this — but I was having a little trouble getting to the part where I actually phone somebody.”

Buffett did not bring his iPhone to the interview with Serwer. “I would be afraid it would ring, and I wouldn’t know what to do with it,” Buffett says.

MacDailyNews Take: You know, we have grandparents who come from a mechanical age, like Buffett, and they are much more accustomed to operating physical buttons, switches, and levers to get things done. To them, the Multi-Touch display – the whole “slab of glass” thing – seems to be just foreign enough to erect a mental block. Buffet, of course, doesn’t need to know how to “work” an iPhone. He’ll be just fine.

On the other hand, we also have grandparents who’ve adapted from a mechanical to a digital age very, very nicely. It’s just a weird thing; some get it and some never do. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks except when you can; it depends on the dog.

As most of us know all too well, it can also be a bit frustrating when trying to teach someone who just doesn’t get it, especially for hours, so we commiserate with Tim!


  1. I thought I had made my mom an iPhone/iPad/Apple TV maven, because she spends many hours/day on these things, gets her music, movies, videos, chats, facetimes, whatsapps, etc.

    Yesterday I found she had never used Safari and did not know what a “browser” is.

  2. The problem is Buffett isn’t acting like a 2yr old. They’d tap every object on the screen, and learn from doing that. The older generation doesn’t do that. They look for instructions, when they need to just tap things and learn from the act of discovery.

    1. Oy!…

      Dear Tim,
      As a teacher, digital trainer, and consultant for 37 years (from before the Mac), I say to you: I feel your pain.*
      – Dogadoga
      * and welcome to my world.🤪

  3. but with each new version of iOS, the very basic interface principles that made Apple a world power are going away. More and more apps leave you wondering where to go next if you have not been so worshipful as to memorize the path for each function in each iOS app.
    It also proves to me my belief that the list of things the touch interface cannot do is far larger than what it can do.
    Mac user since 1988 and really considering going back to iOS 12.

    1. I totally agree. The interface has become a treasure hunt. Not only iOS but also MacOS. No indicators as Apple’s original user interface guidelines stated. Just poke, swipe, punch … “oh there you go. So that’s where it is.”

      I’m a Mac user since 1985, Fat Mac which I still have and it still boots. My new 16″ MacBook Pro is Mac #60. Also, 4 iPads and virtually every phone. But find the new style of interface design unintuitive.

    2. I miss iOS12 as well, nothing in iOS13 has made the experience better for me, only problems to speak of. I hope the continued “flattening” that got rid of basic things like useful buttons in the mail app that are just buried now, adding unnecessary taps all over, are the last smudges of Jony Ives dirty fingerprints. On the other hand I think Apple has become such a bureaucratic colossus, layered with middle-managers, teams and reams of physical and digital paperwork, that there’s no one left who could cut through the red tape. I think Steve himself would have trouble fixing these problems. Though they’ll probably be successful for a long time, they’re like a gigantic ship, you can’t change course in pursuit of perfection when tens of billions of dollars in equipment, employees, foreign labor, supply chains and everything else depends on consistent production and sales of new products.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.