Just six weeks before Steve Jobs' death, the iconic Founder of Apple handed his CEO position to Tim Cook, former Chief Operating Officer.
In what has been described as one of the most “closely watched [transitions] of power in corporate history”, Cook, in a lengthy interview with The Washington Post, discusses the approach of his five year anniversary as CEO, Apple’s future, failures and the increasing interest in AI and AR.
The iPhone, launched by Jobs has been the biggest driver of Apple’s growth during Cooks reign, accounting for almost two-thirds of Apple’s revenue in the past year.
In July, Apple sold its billionth iPhone. When asked about how Apple will move forward from a market that’s ‘cooling off’ Cook said that being a leading product in the smartphone industry “is actually a privilege, not a problem.
“The global sales of PCs each year are about 275 million right now. That number’s been declining. The global market for smartphones is 1.4 billion.
"Over time, I’m convinced every person in the world will have a smartphone. That may take a while, and they won’t all have iPhones. But it is the greatest market on earth from a consumer electronics point of view.
“In today’s products we have services [iCloud, App Store, Apple Pay and the like], which over the last 12 months grew about $4billion to over $23billion [in sales],” said Cook when asked about Apple’s long-term growth plans. “Next year we’ve said it’s going to be a Fortune 100 company in size. What else? iPad. The iPad Pro. And then, of course, the markets. We have done fairly well in China. India is fast growing, but our base there is smaller.”
He remained elusive about potential new products, but revealed that “[augmented reality] is extremely interesting and sort of a core technology. We’ve always viewed that people love surprises. We don’t have enough anymore in our lives.”
He also admits the failures made under his tenure, including Maps: "Today we have a product we’re proud of," he says. "[But] we had the self-honesty to admit this wasn’t our finest hour and the courage to choose another way of doing it. That’s important.
“I hired the wrong person for retail [former Dixons CEO John Browett] initially. That was clearly a screw-up. He didn’t fit here culturally is a good way to describe it.”
When asked about succeeding Jobs, Cook said: “To me, Steve’s not replaceable. By anyone. [Voice softens] He was an original of a species. I never viewed that was my role. I think it would have been a treacherous thing if I would have tried to do it. When I first took the job as CEO, I actually thought that Steve would be here for a long time.
He also addressed Apple’s environmental and social responsibility, saying: “For a company that’s all about empowering people through our products, and being a collection of people whose goal in life is to change the world for the better — it doesn’t sit right with me that you have that kind of focus, but you’re not making sure your carbon footprint isn’t poisoning the place. Or that you’re not evangelizing moving human rights forward. I think every generation has the responsibility to enlarge the meaning of human rights.”
On being CEO, Cook said: “It’s sort of a lonely job.” However he also added: “I’ve got the best job in the world. I think about my day and weeks and months and years — I put them in three buckets: people, strategy and execution. I sort of move between those on a daily basis as to where I put my time. I always think the most important one of those is people. If you don’t get that one right, it doesn’t matter what kind of energy you have in the other two — it’s not enough.”