Tim Cook on the Urgency of Solving Problems, Unpredictability of Apple, and Industry Disruption

Following yesterday's announcement that Apple CEO Tim Cook had been named to the shortlist for TIME's annual Person of the Year feature, the magazine has published a lengthy profile of Cook today covering his runner-up status.

Much of the information in the profile has been discussed in other settings, but it offers a good overview of Cook and his time at Apple. The piece also offers a few fresh quotes from Cook about his perspective and his role in leading Apple. The report touches on Cook's combination of calm demeanor and intense focus, noting that he can just as easily lighten the mood with his manner as light fires under others to spur them to action.

Like Jobs, Cook suffers fools neither gladly nor in any other way (except when he has to, i.e., when talking to journalists). Behind the scenes, that measured calm can — if the legends are true — become a merciless coldness that roots out confusion and incompetence. “I’ve always felt that a part of leadership is conveying a sense of urgency in dealing with key issues,” he says. “Apple operates at an extreme pace, and my experience has been that key issues rarely get smaller on their own.”

Cook also addresses some of the uncertainty that has surrounded Apple in recent months, from a stock price weighed down by assorted factors to the Apple Maps situation to fears that Apple is losing ground to competitors in the mobile industry:

None of this appears to ruffle Cook particularly. “I’ve worked at Apple for 15 years,” he says, “so Apple’s not foreign to me. I don’t mean to sound like it’s all a predictable ride. It’s unpredictable. But it’s always been unpredictable.” He hasn’t altered his personal style any. He remains, like all great Apple products, a paradoxical combination of open and closed, polished and user-friendly but also sealed up tight against anybody who’s curious about what’s inside. You know there are reams of code churning away down there, just below the surface, but you’ll never know exactly what’s going on.

TIME notes that Cook has yet to truly be tested in terms of bringing innovative products to the market, with much of Apple's massive slate of 2012 product releases having already been in the works before Cook took full control of Apple and the company yet to enter a new market under his watch. But Cook acknowledges that he intends to continue the Apple tradition of entering markets with the full intention of disrupting the status quo.

[T]he test for Cook will be to seek out a new category that’s vulnerable to disruption and disrupt the hell out of it.

I ask Cook if he would do that — if that would continue to be Apple’s modus operandi going forward. He smiles, seductively as always, and says, “Yes. Yes. Most definitely.” When that happens, that’s when Cook will show his hand, and we’ll get a look below the surface.

Television has of course been rumored to be the next industry where Apple hopes to make a major impact, but progress has reportedly been slow as it seeks to reach content deals that will allow the company to offer the bundle of hardware and services it needs to make its desired impact. Apple has long dabbled in television through the iTunes Store and the Apple TV, with Apple executives repeatedly referring to the current set-top box as a "hobby" that the company would "keep pulling the string" on. In recent months, television appears to have been a bigger focus for Apple with Cook referring to it several times as an area of "intense interest" for Apple.

(Photo by Marco Grob for TIME)

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 13, tvOS 14
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
100 months ago
Was that picture of him taken just after a house fire?
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
100 months ago
"Thanks to Google Maps, I was able to make it to the interview in time."

Tim
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
100 months ago

No, it was taken after a BBQ fire


His name is Tim Cook. So, they cooked Tim.:D
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
100 months ago
Truly one of the most interesting people in the news this year. I could have seen Time naming him with the top honor.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
100 months ago
Get the price right this time.

Many of my students are very keen to get iPad Minis but the price is simply killing them, so they are going for cheaper Samsung tabs instead. There is a real feel of recession and bout of belt tightening going on in the UK this Christmas and with future reductions in ICT spending due next year, Apple needs to consider price because value is a perceived metric tempered by the real ability to pay. :(

Apple needs to get the price point right...these kid's and their parents don't, and can't afford to, buy tablets every year and as MS discovered if you catch them early then they stick with what they know rather than change. No matter how good the alternative is, the other option has got to become onerous before they'll consider change. That's why MS office is so entrenched and Pages et al is still a very distant second in the real world. Don't blow it, Apple
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
100 months ago
Passion

It is hard to see what Tim is passionate about that will directly influence the company.

I love the saying "Where technology intersects art"

That's the Job version of Apple but where does this new Tim version of Apple go?

I think the over-arching goal should continue to be "a computing platform/ecosystem for the rest of us". Apple has always done well when they've worked diligently on making things simple yet powerful with a nod toward minimalism.

There are plenty of markets that need to be revamped.

Energy - People should start thinking about clean energy and energy efficiency. Apple could do some wonderful things where with automation and more.

Security - Facetime could evolve into a more comprehensive surveillance tool. Cameras are big right now and with smartphones keeping us in touch with what's going out outside of our sphere cameras are the key visual component.

Networking - I believe that central storage is vital for the next phase of digital media. I don't want to worry about iDevice storage and that means leveraging the cloud and local storage effectively

Education - iBooks Author is fantastic. I'd like to see Apple step up again and try to make a dent in the Education Universe.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Takes Legal Action Against Small Company With Pear Logo

Saturday August 8, 2020 11:09 am PDT by
Apple is taking legal action against the developers of the app "Prepear" due to its logo, according to iPhone in Canada. Prepear is an app that helps users discover recipes, plan meals, make lists, and arrange grocery deliveries. The app is a spinoff of "Super Healthy Kids," and the founders claim that they are facing litigation from Apple. Apple reportedly takes issue with Prepear's logo, ...

Apple Seeds iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Public Beta 4 to Testers

Thursday August 6, 2020 10:05 am PDT by
Apple today seeded new public betas of upcoming iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 updates to its public beta testing group. Today's software releases, which Apple labels as fourth betas to keep them in line with developer betas, are actually the third betas that Apple has provided and they come two weeks after the prior beta releases. Public beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing...

Supposed iPhone 12 Display Unit Leaks

Thursday August 6, 2020 8:13 am PDT by
An image supposedly of an iPhone 12 display unit has been shared online by leaker "Twitter user Mr. White". Compared to images of an iPhone 11 Pro display piece, this new unit has a reoriented display connector, reaching up from the bottom of the display, rather than from the left-hand side on iPhone 11 Pro. This may be due to the logic board moving to the other side of the device. A...

8 Third-Party Home Screen Widgets That You Can Try Out Now on iOS 14

Wednesday August 5, 2020 12:56 pm PDT by
One of the biggest new features of iOS 14 is Home Screen widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. The widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. When the iOS 14 beta was first released in June, widgets were limited to Apple's own apps like Calendar and Weather, but several third-party developers have begun to test ...

New 27-Inch iMac's Storage Affixed to Logic Board, 4TB and 8TB Configurations Have Expansion Connector

Friday August 7, 2020 7:46 am PDT by
Following a report from German blog iFun.de that claimed the new 27-inch iMac's flash storage is soldered to the logic board, MacRumors has obtained additional information in an internal document for Apple technicians. In the document, Apple says that the flash storage is indeed affixed to the logic board and cannot be removed. However, for the 4TB and 8TB configurations, Apple says that a...

2020 iMac Teardown Reveals Internal Changes and Similarities

Saturday August 8, 2020 12:44 pm PDT by
A teardown video, shared by OWC, reveals the internal changes in the new 2020 27-inch iMac. The 2020 27-inch iMac was announced earlier this week with 10th-generation Intel Core processors, AMD Radeon Pro 5000 series graphics, up to 128GB of RAM, up to 8TB of storage, a 1080p front-facing FaceTime camera, a True Tone display with a nano-texture glass option, higher fidelity speakers, and...

Kuo: iPhone 12 Camera Lens Supplier Experiencing Quality Issues, But May Not Affect Launch Schedule

Thursday August 6, 2020 9:30 pm PDT by
One of Apple's camera lens suppliers for the upcoming non-Pro iPhone 12 models is having quality issues, according to a new research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo seen by MacRumors. The issues are, however, unlikely to have an impact on Apple's shipping schedule, presuming that Apple's other main supplier can make up the difference. Kuo says that Genius Electronic Optical has discovered...

Google's $349 Pixel 4a vs. Apple's $399 iPhone SE

Wednesday August 5, 2020 1:45 pm PDT by
Google this week launched its newest smartphone, the $349 Pixel 4a, a low-cost device that's designed to compete with other affordable devices like Apple's iPhone SE. We picked up one of the new Pixel 4a smartphones and thought we'd check it out to see how it measures up to the iPhone SE, given that the two devices have such similar price points. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel ...

Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise-Canceling Headphones Now Available for $350

Friday August 7, 2020 2:01 am PDT by
Sony's flagship WH-1000MX3 noise-canceling headphones have been among the best on the market for some time, and this week Sony released its fourth-generation WH-1000XM4 headphones boasting some notable improvements on the previous model. The XM4s feature the same basic design as the XM3s, but are one gram lighter at 254 grams due to slightly larger ear pads and some subtle tweaks to the...

Apple Announces New 27-Inch iMac With 10th-Gen Processors, Up to 128GB RAM, 1080p Webcam, True Tone, and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 8:07 am PDT by
Apple today announced a new 27-inch iMac with faster 10th-generation Intel Core processor options, next-generation AMD graphics, up to 128GB of RAM, a higher-resolution 1080p front-facing FaceTime camera, a True Tone display with a nano-texture glass option, a T2 chip, higher fidelity speakers, studio-quality microphones, and more. A breakdown of the new 27-inch iMac's features and specs:10th...