My Apple, the Apple that produced the Mac, was started and then saved by co-founder Steve Jobs. Dear Leader has been gone since 2011, and his hand picked successor, CEO Tim Cook, had been running the show for a few years when Jobs died. Tim Cook is the new face of Apple.
When Jobs returned to Apple in mid-1997 he worked feverishly to right the ship, cut costs, and improve focus on products– the Mac– that would bring in revenue and profit. Along the way, Jobs hired Tim Cook to run operations. Jobs then set about looking for the next great thing. What he created is a lengthy list of product market disruptions the likes of which gadget makers have never seen.
Apple Store, iPod, iTunes, iTunes Music Store, iPhone, the App Stores, iPad. Those visionary products defined Jobs’ legacy and gave Tim Cook a foundation to grow Apple into the future. And, grow Apple did. Revenue. Profits. Accessories. And, perhaps a conscience. No CEO has extracted revenue and profits from a customer base the way Cook has since Jobs died.
Cook’s legacy is yet set in stone. We could call Cook The King of Accessories. Beats headphones, Apple Pay, Apple Music, Watch, AirPods, et al; basic accessories to iPhone. It took public brow beating by customers and critics to get Apple to upgrade the iPad and Mac. Services, the new darling of Wall Street, exists because Apple is a hardware company, and Cook doesn’t have any of the hits spawned by Jobs since the turn of the century.
Yet, we could also call Cook The Face of Apple’s Conscience.
The Cook Doctrine from nearly a decade ago:
We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us. We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot. And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change. And I think regardless of who is in what job those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.
Cook’s view of the Data Industrial Complex:
Our own information — from the everyday to the deeply personal — is being weaponized against us with military efficiency… These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold… Taken to the extreme this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. Your profile is a bunch of algorithms that serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into harm… We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance.
Would Steve Jobs have taken such a political stance?
Cook on the intersection of morality, conscience, and technology:
They may say to you our companies can never achieve technology’s true potential if there were strengthened privacy regulations. But this notion isn’t just wrong it is destructive — technology’s potential is and always must be rooted in the faith people have in it. In the optimism and the creativity that stirs the hearts of individuals. In its promise and capacity to make the world a better place.
In a rather unheralded missive, Cook has expressed Apple’s conscience in a way that contrasts sharply with other technology giants. No gratuitous violence on Apple content. No racist hate apps on the App Store. Apple is not an anything goes company. Compare Apple’s search for a new technology center with Amazon’s nationwide search for a new headquarters. Amazon’s contentious and highly public efforts created two bruised winners and many bruised losers.
Cook after choosing Austin, TX as a new technology center:
But from our point of view, we didn’t want to create this contest because you wind up putting people though a ton of work to select one. That is a case where you have a winner and a lot of losers. I don’t like that.
Cook is low key like a column of steel. Slowly but surely, and with distinct and visible effort, Tim Cook has transformed Apple from the Steve Jobs’ era to become an economic powerhouse, and he is the face of Apple. A company with a conscience.
It’s obvious to me that this is Cook’s Apple now, and, honestly, I don’t know what to make of that.