Apple CEO Tim Cook on Privacy: 'We Very Much Are on Your Side'

At the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder conference this weekend, Apple CEO Tim Cook sat down for an interview with CNBC's Becky Quick, and that interview aired this morning on Squawk Box.

During the discussion, Cook covered topics like Warren Buffett's Apple investments, Apple's company mission, how Apple runs, internal debate topics, privacy, acquisitions, and more.

timcookcnbc
Cook said that when he heard that Warren Buffett invested in Apple stock, he said he thought to himself "Wow, this is really cool." An investment from "the ultimate long-term investor" is an "honor and a privilege," Cook said. "I mean, wow, it's Warren Buffett is investing the company. And yeah, so, it felt great."

Buffett's decision to invest in Apple meant that he viewed it as a consumer company, not a technology company because Buffett doesn't invest in tech companies he doesn't understand. Cook says that while Apple is in the tech industry, the consumer is the company's focus. "We think technology should be in the background, not the foreground," said Cook. Cook went on to reiterate something that he's said many times before - Apple's goal is to enrich people's lives.

Our mission is to make the best products in the world in those areas which we choose to participate that enrich people's lives. And so, if we can't make the best product, we don't go in. If we can make a great product but it doesn't help anybody, it doesn't enrich their life, then we're not going to go into that either. And so that's a pretty narrow funnel then because you're working on a few things. And we know in order to do them at the quality level we want to do them, we can only do a few.

Apple is a large company, but Cook says that in "some ways," it's "like a big startup." Apple is organized, but teams work together on projects and are "empowered to come up with new things." Apple has a "heavy debate culture" where the best ideas are debated. "And then we choose the best of the best to decide what to spend our time on," said Cook.

Apple employees debate on trends, new technologies, features, and categories to enter or not enter. One "healthy debate" was when Apple entered into the smart watch business.

A very healthy debate. And about what it could eventually do for people. And how much emphasis to place on the health and fitness side of that. You know, where to put the the relative balance. You could imagine, there's an incredible set of features in the watch just to do things like curate when you're interrupted, and people are now taking calls on them. And sort of the- the things that you would think is part and parcel to the iPhone, but in a curated manner. And- or you could, to put the emphasis on fitness and health, and so forth. And we've elected to do some of this, in a great way.

Cook said that he himself has always believed that to enrich someone's life, wellbeing is in the "top two or three," and he went on to speak about the importance of democratizing access to health features like the ECG in the Apple Watch Series 4. "Things like this, these are profound things," said Cook.

Privacy comes up in almost all interviews with Cook, and the CNBC interview was no exception. Cook said that privacy is "foundational" to the way that Apple runs, because Apple "works for the consumer." Cook said that Apple feels a "level of responsibility" to protect everything on your phone because of the depth of information that it contains.

But we don't want to use you as our product. And we just have a fundamental issue with doing that. And we've always thought that the building of a detailed profile about your life could result in tragic things. Whether it's a breach of your own privacy or something where the data itself could be used in a nefarious way. And so, we've never thought it was right to do it, and we've always thought that you owned it.

Cook went on to say that he's frustrated tech is seen as monolithic, lumping Apple in with other companies like Facebook. "We don't traffic in your data," said Cook. "We very much are on your side. We also curate our platform."

Pivoting to acquisitions, Cook said that Apple has purchased 20 to 25 companies over the course of the last six months or so, purchasing a company "every two to three weeks." Some of those acquisitions are known, but many of them go under the radar for months and even years.

Cook's interview, with more detail on privacy and other topics, can be watched in its entirety over at CNBC.

Top Rated Comments

grad Avatar
24 months ago
'We Very Much Are on Your Side'

... said the wolves to the sheeps.
Score: 44 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macfacts Avatar
24 months ago
If apple is on "our" side, why don't they encrypt iCloud backup data on the iPhone before uploading?
Score: 42 Votes (Like | Disagree)
fumi2014 Avatar
24 months ago
Tim Fake.

Cannot believe anyone would fall for this nonsense.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Martius Avatar
24 months ago
I wish someone asked Tim about the MBP keyboards in this kind of interview. You know, direct question in front of a camera.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LeeW Avatar
24 months ago
They still have much to do with privacy/security but I will take Apple over Google every day of the week.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mdnz Avatar
24 months ago
Does he give interviews every single day of his life?
The rest of the time he's a political activist.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

jon prosser imac 2021colors

Prosser: 2021 iMac to Come in Five Colors, Apple Silicon Mac Pro to Resemble 'Stacked' Mac Minis

Wednesday February 24, 2021 7:26 am PST by
Hit-and-miss leaker Jon Prosser has today alleged that the upcoming 2021 iMac models will offer five color options, mirroring the colors of the fourth-generation iPad Air, and revealed a number of additional details about the Mac Pro with Apple Silicon. In a new video on YouTube channel FrontPageTech, Prosser explained that the redesigned iMacs will come featuring options for Silver, Space ...
2021 mbp sd slot feature2

Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models With HDMI Port and SD Card Reader to Launch Later This Year

Monday February 22, 2021 8:52 pm PST by
Apple plans to release two new MacBook Pro models equipped with an HDMI port and SD card reader in the second half of 2021, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who outlined his expectations in a research note obtained by MacRumors. The return of an SD card reader was first reported by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman last month. "We predict that Apple's two new MacBook Pro models in 2H21 will have...
m1 mac mini

M1 Mac Users Report Excessive SSD Wear

Tuesday February 23, 2021 7:07 am PST by
Over the past week, some M1 Mac users have been reporting alarming SSD health readings, suggesting that these devices are writing extraordinary amounts of data to their drives (via iMore). Across Twitter and the MacRumors forums, users are reporting that M1 Macs are experiencing extremely high drive writes over a short space of time. In what appear to be the most severe cases, M1 Macs are sai...
iphone 12 pro display video

BOE Rumored to Supply iPhone 13 Display Panels After iPhone 12 Failures

Monday February 22, 2021 9:54 am PST by
Display manufacturer BOE will be one of the main suppliers of OLED panels for iPhone 13 models, according to a new report today from Taiwan's Economic Daily News. BOE is said to be working with touch panel manufacturer General Interface Solution (GIS), part of the Hon Hai Group to develop OLED panels. Multiple iPhone 12 rumors suggested that BOE would supply some panels for the devices,...
flat mbp 14 inch feature yellow

Redesigned 14-Inch MacBook Pro Expected to Feature Brighter Mini-LED Display With Slimmer Bezels and More

Thursday February 25, 2021 7:48 am PST by
Apple plans to unveil new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with Mini-LED-backlit displays in the second half of this year, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report claims that Radiant Opto-Electronics will be the exclusive supplier of the Mini-LED backlight units, while Quanta Computer is said to be tasked with final assembly of the...
anker magsafe powercore battery pack

Anker Releases MagSafe-Compatible Battery Pack for iPhone 12 Lineup

Tuesday February 23, 2021 7:49 am PST by
Following rumors that Apple is working on a MagSafe battery pack for iPhone 12 models, popular accessory maker Anker has beaten Apple to the punch with the release of its PowerCore Magnetic 5K Wireless Power Bank. First previewed at CES 2021, the PowerCore battery pack magnetically attaches to the back of any iPhone 12 model and provides 5W of wireless charging. With a 5,000 mAh capacity,...
iPad Pro Mini LED

New iPad Pro and MacBook Models With Mini-LED Displays Again Rumored to Launch This Year

Monday February 22, 2021 9:32 pm PST by
Taiwanese company Ennostar will begin production of Mini-LED backlight units for an upcoming 12.9-inch iPad Pro in the late first quarter or second quarter of this year, according to industry sources cited by DigiTimes. Ennostar is a holding company that was jointly established in January 2021 by LED-related manufacturers Epistar and Lextar Electronics. Apple is expected to unveil the new ...
First Look Big Sur Feature2

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

Thursday February 25, 2021 10:07 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, the fourth update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 comes two weeks after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.2.2‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences....
steam apple logo

Valve Ordered to Give Apple Information on 436 Steam Games As Part of Epic Games Legal Case

Thursday February 25, 2021 1:50 am PST by
Valve, the makers behind popular game distribution platform Steam, will be forced to hand over aggregate historical sales, price, and other information on 436 games hosted on the store to Apple, as part of the Apple vs. Epic Games antitrust case. As reported in a paywalled report by Law360, during a virtual discovery hearing on Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixson ordered that...
scott forstall original iphone

Epic Games 'Attempting to Locate' Former iOS Chief Scott Forstall to Testify in Ongoing Legal Battle with Apple

Tuesday February 23, 2021 4:22 am PST by
As part of its ongoing legal battle, Epic Games is now seeking testimony from Apple's former iOS software chief, Scott Forstall. Forstall left Apple in 2013, in what was widely reported at the time to have been a forced exit, largely because of the botched early launch of Apple Maps. Since then, Forstall has kept a very low profile and has only made a few media appearances in the past few...