Steve Jobs Criticized Tim Cook as 'Not a Product Person,' Says Biographer Walter Isaacson

"Steve Jobs" biographer Walter Isaacson was on Squawk Box this week, and in an interview he mentioned that he "softened" parts of the book when it came to certain Jobs quotes (via CNBC).


Particularly, Jobs was said to have criticized current Apple CEO Tim Cook for not being a "product person." According to Isaacson, "Steve says how ‌Tim Cook‌ can do everything, and then he looked at me and said, 'Tim's not a product person.'"

Isaacson said that he wanted to soften certain things that he thought were too harsh in his biography of Steve Jobs. The book first launched in October 2011, just 19 days after Jobs died from pancreatic cancer.

“Sometimes when Steve was in pain ... and he was angry, he would say more things that [Cook] was not a product person,” recalled Isaacson. “I felt I would put in the specific things that were relevant to the reader but not the complaints.”

Cook was also mentioned in a recent piece by The Wall Street Journal, which focused on Jony Ive, who reportedly became "dispirited" because of Cook's lack of interest in the product development process. Ive announced that he will leave Apple later this year and start his own design studio, with Apple as one of its primary clients.


Isaacson has been critical of Apple as a whole in the past, believing in 2014 that Amazon and Google had overtaken Apple to become the most innovative technology companies of the modern day. At the time, he specifically referenced virtual assistants as a space where Apple needed improvement.

Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs went on to be the basis for Aaron Sorkin's screenplay of the Danny Boyle-directed film "Steve Jobs." The film was well received by critics, earning four Golden Globe Award nominations and two Academy Award nominations.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
12 months ago
Tim is CEO, he doesn't need to be a product person...but somebody at Apple does. :-)
Score: 68 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 months ago
That’s why Tim Cook hasn’t replaced Steve Jobs. No one will. And Apple knows that. Cook is an actual CEO, performing the tasks of a CEO. He knows to defer to people in the company that have the skills needed to imagine, engineer and market a product. He surrounds himself with the best people in their respective areas of expertise. That’s what a CEO is supposed to do.

Steve was unique in that he wasn’t exactly a CEO in the traditional sense. He was a Chief Executive Visionary. Even while Jobs was here, day to day running of the company, traditionally tasks run the CEO, were run by the COO — non other than Tim Cook. That’s why he transitioned so seamlessly into the role.

We’re lucky that Tim Cook knows that he’s not a product guy. That was the problem with Gil Amelio. He wasn’t either but the difference between Amelio and Cook is that he thought he was and tried to be another Steve Jobs. Someone with a lack of introspection and a self critical eye, who thinks they know best about what a product should do and look like, who has the power to push forward despite what people with actual talent advise against, could destroy the company. Gil Amelio almost did. Tim Cook, on the other hand has deferred to his experts, knowing that designing and engineering products is not his expertise. And Apple has flourished under his tenure.
Score: 62 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 months ago
As if we didn't know this. Duh!
Score: 55 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 months ago
Weird how once every couple of years Isaacson comes forward with another revelation that for some reason didn’t make it into his book.
Score: 45 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 months ago
Walter Isaacson is an opportunist who wants to milk his horribly-written biography even more.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 months ago
He was right.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Leaker: Apple to Stick With Lightning Over USB-C for 'iPhone 12' Before Going Port-Less Next Year

Tuesday May 26, 2020 2:31 am PDT by
Apple will use a Lightning port instead of USB-C in the upcoming "iPhone 12," but it will be the last major series of Apple's flagship phones to do so, with models set to combine wireless charging and a port-less Smart Connector system for data transfer and syncing in the iPhone "13 series" next year. The above claim comes from occasional Apple leaker and Twitter user "Fudge" (@choco_bit),...

Apple Releases macOS Catalina 10.15.5 With Battery Health Management Features, Fix for Finder Freezing

Tuesday May 26, 2020 1:59 pm PDT by
Apple today released macOS Catalina 10.15.5, the fifth update to the macOS Catalina operating system that was released in October 2019. macOS Catalina 10.15.5 comes two months after the launch of macOS Catalina 10.15.4, which introduced Screen Time Communication Limits. macOS Catalina 10.15.5 is a free update that can be downloaded from the Mac App Store using the Update feature in the...

16-Inch MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, and iMac Pro With Mini-LED Displays Again Rumored to Launch in 2021

Tuesday May 26, 2020 5:30 am PDT by
Apple plans to release several higher-end devices with Mini-LED displays in 2021, including a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro in the first quarter, a new 16-inch MacBook Pro in the second quarter, and a new 27-inch iMac in the second half of the year, according to Jeff Pu, an analyst at Chinese research firm GF Securities. This timeframe lines up with one shared by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who recently...

Leaker Shares Details on 'iPhone 13' Camera

Wednesday May 27, 2020 4:27 pm PDT by
The next-generation iPhone 12 lineup coming in fall 2020 isn't out yet, but Fudge (@choco_bit), a leaker who sometimes shares information on upcoming Apple devices, today offered up details on what Apple has in store for the 2021 iPhone 13's camera setup. A simple design drawing depicts a device with a four camera array, which Fudge claims will have the following features: 64-megapixel...

Jailbreak Tool 'unc0ver' 5.0 Released With iOS 13.5 Compatibility

Sunday May 24, 2020 3:06 pm PDT by
The team behind the "unc0ver" jailbreaking tool for iOS has released version 5.0.0 of its software that claims to have the ability to jailbreak "every signed iOS version on every device" using a zero-day kernel vulnerability by Pwn20wnd, a renowned iOS hacker. The announcement comes just days after it was announced that the tool would soon launch. The unc0ver website highlights how the tool...

Apple Making It Harder to Avoid Nagging macOS Update Notifications

Thursday May 28, 2020 8:13 am PDT by
With the release of macOS Catalina 10.15.5 and related security updates for macOS Mojave and High Sierra earlier this week, Apple is making it more difficult for users to ignore available software updates and remain on their current operating system versions. Included in the release notes for macOS Catalina 10.15.5 is the following:- Major new releases of macOS are no longer hidden when...

HBO Max Now Available on Apple TV and iOS Devices

Wednesday May 27, 2020 2:42 am PDT by
HBO Max launched today, and is now available on Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad. WarnerMedia's new streaming service, which replaces HBO Now, combines HBO content with shows and films from Warner Bros and Turner TV. The service is available as a native app on the ‌Apple TV‌ HD and ‌Apple TV‌ 4K, but second and third-generation ‌Apple TV‌ owners will need to AirPlay HBO Max content...

First App Using Apple and Google's Exposure Notification API Launches in Switzerland

Tuesday May 26, 2020 3:02 pm PDT by
The first app that takes advantage of the Exposure Notification API developed by Apple and Google has launched in Switzerland, according to a report from the BBC. A team of app developers working on contact tracing app called SwissCovid have rolled out the app in a beta capacity for members of the Swiss army, hospital workers, and civil servants. After the app is tested and approved by MPs,...

Anker Launches $100 24K Gold-Plated USB-C to Lightning Cable

Wednesday May 27, 2020 12:47 pm PDT by
Anker, a brand normally known for its well-made, affordable accessories for Apple devices, has debuted a new $100 24K gold-plated USB-C to Lightning cable. According to Anker, the cable, which is in the PowerLine+ III family, features a "Special Edition Gold Design" that's "bold yet elegant" with the aforementioned gold-plated cable heads and matching braided gold and black cable. The...

Apple Reissuing Numerous iOS App Updates, Potentially Related to Recent 'This App is No Longer Shared' Bug

Sunday May 24, 2020 9:13 pm PDT by
Over the past few hours, a number of MacRumors readers have reported seeing dozens or even hundreds of pending app updates showing in the App Store on their iOS devices, including for many apps that were already recently updated by the users. In many cases, the dates listed on these new app updates extend back as far as ten days. Apple has not shared any information as to why updates for...