History of Tim Cook (Full Documentary)
Tim Cook: the man who turned Apple into the world’s first trillion-dollar company. There’s more to him than meets the eye, and while he may not’ve been the genius who invented Apple, he is the man who transformed the company into what it is today. Steve Jobs made Cook Apple’s CEO during a crucial moment in its history. The transition away from Jobs was seen as a huge risk.
Since Apple began its historic downward spiral after Jobs left the company in 1985. But Cook accepted the challenge in 2011 with a soft-spoken modesty that he’s become known for. And while his tenure as CEO hasn’t been without challenges, his leadership took Apple to places that no one ever expected. But perhaps the person most surprised was Cook himself. Who had humble beginnings not in the heart of silicon valley or San Francisco, but a small town called Mobile, Alabama. Cook was born on November 1st, 1960 into a typical middle-class American family.
He was the second child of Don Cook, a shipyard worker, and Geraldine Cook, a part-time pharmacist. Cook is said to look fondly on many aspects of his childhood. Although living in the deep south in the 60s brought its own set of challenges. The region wasn’t very tolerant of progressive ideals, and this shaped the philosophy Cook lives by today. The family lived in Alabama for most of his childhood, other than a very brief stay in Pensacola, Florida.
After returning from Florida, the Cook family moved to Robertsdale, which, although still Alabama, was very different to the city-living in Mobile. Small town life seemed to suit the family well and Cook thrived at school. Although he isn’t forthright about any religious beliefs, Cook was baptized Catholic.
As a teenager, Tim Cook behaved probably as you’d expect. He was a clean cut, over-achieving straight-A student. The exact opposite of Steve Jobs during his teenage years, who was said to have been a bit of a rebel and quick to become distracted from school work to play pranks instead. On the other hand, Cook was quiet, and unsuspecting, it was said that his intelligence would sneak up on you. Taking his school-work seriously ensured Cook’s future was filled with opportunity. While he was voted the most studious in his class, very few expected him to go on to change the world.
Despite his achievements, Cook has remained modest and reveals only what needs sharing. In fact, he’s quoted as wishing to have a ‘basic level of privacy’, be he also recognized the need to use his position of influence for good. Discrimination was rife during his time in the South. Anybody who was not white, male and straight, likely experienced it firsthand.
Cook recognized this reality. Saying, “Since these early days, I have seen and have experienced many types of discrimination and all of them were rooted in the fear of people that were different than the majority.” Cook was likely had an easier time recognizing these injustices since he himself was part of the LGBTQ community. While he didn’t come out as gay until well into his adulthood, Cook acknowledged the difficulties of growing up at a time when being gay was not only taboo, but criminalized.
He later described his motivation for coming out. Saying, “I was public because I began to receive stories from kids who read something online that I was gay, and they were going through being bullied, feeling like their family didn’t love them, being pushed out of their home, very close to suicide, I mean, things that just really pulled my heart.” A Born Businessman While a top student, Cook also showed a penchant for business from a very early age. He worked a variety of jobs and gained experience in different areas.
As a paperboy, a part-time employee at the pharmacy his mother worked at, and taking on the role of business manager for his school yearbook. In fact, he coined the phrase ‘Have you got yours?’ which was written across t-shirts in order to convince classmates to buy the school yearbook. This advertising strategy proved successful. As more yearbooks were sold that year than any other time in the school’s history.
Cook’s transcripts, complete with straight As and numerous extra-curriculars, were enough to secure him a spot to study for a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering. It was here where Cook developed his instincts for thinking outside of the box. One of his professors, Robert Bulfin, commented that, “He could cut through all the junk and get down to the gist of [a] problem very quickly.” Perhaps one of the key skills Cook learnt during his time at Auburn University, was coding, something that would come in handy in his later years at Apple. At the time, it wasn’t something that was particularly popular, but he felt it would become an in-demand skill in the future.
Cook also enrolled in a corporate education program and worked at Reynolds Aluminum while completing his degree. As it happened, the company was eventually forced to make a large number of layoffs. Which allowed Cook to quickly jump up the corporate ladder and found himself working alongside the president. A valuable experience for any college student, but especially for one as hardworking as Cook.
Who took advantage of the opportunity. Much like his school life, Cook’s time at college was fairly unremarkable. He wasn’t noted for any major achievements, other than graduating with an impressive Industrial Engineering degree while demonstrating a respectable work ethic. This is how Cook was remembered amongst his peers.
Nobody questioned his capabilities, but very few considered him a stand-out revolutionary. Upon graduating from Auburn in 1982, Cook was hired by IBM. One of Apple’s biggest competitors. This decision would change his life.
The computer industry was still relatively new and not as profitable as other markets. But Cook took a leap of faith, which set him on an unexpected path to success. It was after leaving university when Cook began to come into his own. His job at IBM changed the way he saw business and the manufacturing process.
This was Cook’s first career position and as usual, he gave it his all. Cook’s role within the company was to ensure the plant was making the right amount of parts at the right time, often referred to as pipe-line management. This may sound simple in theory, but when you consider the sheer scale of manufacturing and the variety and complexity of parts required to build PCs, the role was a major challenge. There was a fine line between having excess inventory, which would be a waste of warehouse space, and not having enough, which meant products would be shipped to customers late.
IBM already had a computerized system in place that kept track of parts, but Cook wanted to replace it with a new system called Just in Time manufacturing. It was fairly revolutionary since a company could save time and money by only having the parts on hand that they needed at that moment. No surpluses or contingencies were necessary. They simply had just enough inventory to fulfill current orders. This technique was first developed in Japan and quickly spread across the globe. And it’s a system still used by most companies today.
Soon after IBM’s transition to just-in-time manufacturing, Cook became a popular figure within the company, and was eventually selected for IBM’s leadership program called Future Leaders. Coming in at number one on the list of members. As part of the program, Cook was given the opportunity to participate in a management course at a local college. This helped him learn the cutting edge business theories implemented at IBM. But this wasn’t enough for Cook, who also ended up taking evening classes at Duke University’s School of Business.
He was able to earn an MBA by 1988. Making him an industrial engineer and a business manager, which was a rare combination at the time. Although Cook was ambitious, coworkers remember him as being friendly and sociable. Likely contributing to his string of promotions that ended up landing him an executive role; Director of Fulfillment for North America.
Moving On Up There’s no evidence explaining why Cook eventually left IBM. But rumors allege that a very lucrative offer from Intelligent Electronics provided sufficient motivation. The company was a supplier of microcomputers and other technologies and much smaller than IBM, but Cook became the Chief Operation Officer of their Computer Reseller division, which was no small job. A few years after joining Intelligent Electronics, Cook suffered a health problem that would completely change his outlook on life.
He want to a doctor experiencing severe fatigue and was told that he may have multiple sclerosis. This stunned Cook, who’d never experienced any major health issues before. But after further examinations, doctors discovered that he’d been misdiagnosed.
Cook was relieved, but the experience changed his way of thinking. Since then, he began prioritizing his health, taking up biking as a serious hobby. He also spent a lot of time fundraising for multiple sclerosis research. In 1997, after IE had been the target of lawsuits claiming their stock price was inflated, and Cook advised that IE should be sold to General Electric.
Following his advice, the company struck a deal, and was purchased for $136 million. After this happening, Cook was hired on to Compaq where he served as VP for Corporate Materials. At the time, Compaq was the single biggest PC manufacturer in the world, so Cook implementing his signature just-in-time manufacturing system had a huge impact on efficiency.
Reducing product lead-times from months to days. Word of Compaq’s industry-leading turnaround time soon reached Steve Jobs. He knew it was exactly the thing Apple needed. So Jobs set in motion a strategy to lure Cook to his company, despite it teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Since working at Compaq, Cook had received job offers from Apple.
But the company was struggling. Steve Jobs had just returned a year prior and was trying to prove that his four-product matrix strategy, that many in the industry saw as a huge risk, would eventually pay off. Part of that plan involved discontinuing dozens of existing products that were clogging up Apple’s warehouses and slowing down customer deliveries. Optimizing their logistics would require an operations manager who truly thought differently. Jobs knew that person was Tim Cook.
But there was one small problem; Cook wasn’t interested in working for Apple. He’d only been with Compaq for six months and hadn’t yet realized his full potential. Plus, Cook was already receiving a generous salary, and Compaq was one of the biggest computer companies in the world.
It didn’t make sense to give all that up for Apple; a much smaller company that was struggling to survive. Although, there was one thing about the company Cook found intriguing; Steve Jobs. The man who’d essentially created the modern computer industry that Cook was now part of. Jobs was somewhat of a mythical figure in silicon valley. Appearing in the late 70s to start the computer revolution, then disappearing in the mid 80s, only to show up again with a company called Next, which was acquired by Apple in the late 90s.
There were endless rumors surrounding his personality, his past, and his future plans for Apple. Naturally Cook was curious to find out what Jobs was like for himself. So he agreed to meet him at Apple for an interview.
And this was where his entire life changed. Jobs shared information about an upcoming computer with a design never seen in the industry before. Then described what it’d take for the company to manufacture it.
The product Jobs was describing would become the iMac. And Cook was very interested about its development. Jobs also mentioned issues Apple was having with logistics, and Cook knew he had the experience to solve them. After leaving the interview, Cook knew leaving Compaq for Apple was a huge risk. But he felt that working for Steve Jobs would be the privilege of a lifetime. So in March 1998, against the advice of his family, friends, coworkers, and boss, Cook joined Apple.
At 37 years old, he began serving as senior vice president of worldwide operations. His starting salary was $400,000, with a $500,000 signing bonus. Cook’s mission to help turn Apple around wasn’t easy. It involved downsizing the number of staff and overhauling the way the company approached inventory, manufacturing and distributing.
Just like at IBM and Compaq, Cook utilized his just-in-time manufacturing expertise. Eliminating US warehouse inventory and delivering product to customers direct from the factory. He also created a system that accurately forecasted sales, allowing Apple to tighten logistics even further. Through these efforts, Cook significantly reduced the amount of unsold inventory between product cycles, and reduced product delivery time from months to just a few days. Because of Cook’s competence, Jobs didn’t have to worry about manufacturing and distribution issues.
Instead, he could put energy into his true passion; product design and development. That focus allowed Apple to have the iMac ready to sell just five months after Cook was hired. And it sold like no computer ever before. In just six months, an estimated 800,000 units were sold. Generating over a billion dollars in revenue for Apple, the first time the company had seen profitability in three years. But that was only the beginning.
Cook had a habit of meticulously analyzing Apple’s supply chain, looking for opportunities to optimize. One huge liability on the company’s books were their California production lines. Running a factory wasn’t cheap, and scaling their existing factory to accommodate high volume products like the iPod mini simply wasn’t feasible. That’s when he began pushing for Apple to outsource their manufacturing to China. Since labor would be cheaper, large-scale product assembly could happen faster, and they had the largest seaports in the world.
So beginning with the iPod, Apple began shifting their manufacturing overseas. A decision that not only lowered their cost of goods, but also allowed the company to avoid billions of dollars in US taxes. These improvements to Apple’s bottom line made Cook an integral part of the executive team, which never went unnoticed by Jobs. One thing some people found odd about the relationship between Jobs and Cook, was their opposing temperaments.
You might expect a charismatic, stubborn, outspoken leader like Jobs to have a right-hand man that behaves similarly. But Cook was the opposite of Jobs in many ways. He was never known to raise his voice or berate employees. Instead, he lead with a more soft-spoken demeanor.
When speaking at keynote events, Cook was perhaps one of the least charismatic executives. Leaving the impression that maybe he didn’t have the same level of passion as Jobs. But those were just superficial personality differences. There were two more important reasons why Cook and Jobs worked so well together; their focus and expectations of excellence. Both men were intensely focused on making specific improvements to Apple that would have the greatest return on investment.
For example, Cook actually made one of the most important supply chain deals in the company’s history that is often overlooked. Back in 2005 when the original iPhone was in development, Jobs wanted to transition to flash storage. Which was more fast and durable than the spinning hard disks used in iPods. But flash storage components weren’t especially common back then. If smartphones were to become popular, Apple would be competing against hundreds of other companies for the same components.
Including flash storage in the iPhone could risk a supply chain bottleneck. Limiting how many units Apple could produce and sell. So Cook came up with a plan. In 2005, a few years before mobile devices exploded in popularity, he wrote up a long-term contract with flash storage suppliers. Guaranteeing that Apple would purchase tens of millions of units over the next decade.
But there was a catch; those suppliers needed to prioritize Apple’s purchase orders over others. This was a big gamble. Since Apple would still have to purchase those components even if the iPhone failed to become a hit. Luckily, that didn’t happen.
iPhone went on to sell tens of millions of units in the next couple years, with no supply chain slow-downs holding it back. And it was the competition who was at a disadvantage since they couldn’t secure the flash storage components needed to take on the iPhone. So while Jobs is considered a product visionary, Cook could be considered a supply-chain visionary.
And the mastery of their respective fields is what allowed the two to compliment each other so well. Working hand in hand to deliver revolutionary products as quickly as possible. Then it must’ve came as no surprise when Jobs promoted Cook from Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations to Chief Operating Officer.
More casually known as the CEO’s right hand man. The promotion was a stamp of approval from Jobs. Who trusted Cook to manage almost as much of the company as himself. In 2009, Jobs’ found out that his pancreatic cancer had spread to his liver.
He took a six-month medical leave following his liver transplant, and Cook was assigned interim CEO in his absence. There was no doubt in anybody’s mind that Jobs would be back leading the company in a few months, and that he would be working behind the scenes while recovering from the operation. But Cook’s designation as Interim CEO was writing on the wall as to who Jobs might pick if he ever needed a permanent replacement.
During his time as interim CEO, Cook oversaw the release of iPhone 3GS. The rollout went smoothly, and it was a huge success. After six months Jobs returned from his medical leave and thanked Cook in a keynote speech for rising to the occasion.
Unfortunately, Job’s fight with cancer wasn’t over. He had to take another medical leave in January 2011, and Cook was tasked once again with the role of CEO. Which he also handled with grace.
This time, though, Jobs wouldn’t return to Apple. His health hadn’t recovered, and doctors were telling him to get his affairs in order. There wasn’t much speculation surrounding his successor, as Cook was already chosen twice as interim CEO. It was the transition away from Jobs that would be heavily scrutinized. The last time Jobs left Apple in 1985, the company declined and almost went bankrupt.
Many people were afraid the same thing would happen again. On August 11th, 2001, Tim Cook received a phone call from Jobs asking to meet. Cook headed straight to Jobs’ home in Palo Alto. His body may’ve been succumbing to its cancer, but his spirit was unbroken. Jobs knew it was time to pass the reins to somebody else. And he knew Cook was the man for the job.
Jobs talked about his concerns for the future. How he didn’t want what happened to Disney to happen to Apple. When Walt Disney passed away, a new CEO hadn’t been prepared to replace him.
So for two years, the company lacked clear leadership. With Disney’s executive team making decisions based on what they thought Walt would do. This approach paralyzed the company for quite some time.
To avoid that fate, Jobs made it clear to Cook that he should never make decisions based on what Steve Jobs might do. Instead, he should simply do what he felt was right. When the decision to make Tim Cook CEO went public, there were some strong reactions. Many people felt Cook had big shoes to fill, and it wouldn’t be possible for him to be a better leader than Steve Jobs.
Others felt Cook was a bad choice since he was simply a “bean-counter.” Focused too much on operations instead of innovation. There was a lot of fear about Apple’s future and their ability to make revolutionary products without Jobs. As a result, the company’s share price dropped seven percent after the announcement. But Cook was undeterred by the setback.
Daily movements in Apple’s stock price wasn’t his concern. His main focus was ensuring the company’s growth over the coming decades. By hiring the right people and developing the right products to attract loyal customers. A few weeks after Cook became CEO, Jobs had succumb to his cancer and passed away. Despite some short-term direction that he’d received from Jobs, Cook was now on his own.
Facing intense scrutiny over every decision he made. Cook’s start as Apple CEO was a tumultuous one. Cook not only had to face the difficulties of replacing a legendary leader, but he also had to solved some unanticipated issues. Like when he introduced the third-generation iPad in early 2012. Audience members commented that he had the charisma of a wet blanket.
While other criticized the iPad itself for being too similar to the previous model. Concluding that Cook wasn’t able to innovate like Jobs had. But that didn’t discourage Cook, as the worst was yet to come.
Like the company’s e-book price-fixing lawsuit. Where the Supreme Court forced Apple to pay $400 million to e-book customers for illegally colluding with publishers to fix prices. Then there was issue of slowing iPad sales. And finally; John Browett. Who Cook hired to replace Ron Johnson as Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail. On the paper, he seemed perfect for the job.
Helping to improve the reputation of European electronics retailer Dixons by investing heavily in customer service. But his experience didn’t translate at Apple. Where he began reducing staff hours and slowed hiring of new workers.
This resulted in less customers being helped in stores, and increased the workload of associates on the clock. They began complaining about the stressful work environment, while customers complained about the lack of help in stores. Cook quickly recognized that Browett’s goals didn’t align with Apple’s, and he was let go just nine months after being hired. While most people agreed with Cook’s decision to replace Browett, many were upset by his next big move. Ousting Scott Forstall, who’d worked alongside Steve Jobs since 1992. In fact, Forstall was considered by many to be Job’s potential replacement as CEO.
Since they’d worked together much longer than other executives. But there were rumors that Forstall had countless enemies inside Apple that would like to’ve seen him gone. He was known for being confrontational, argumentative, and uncooperative. Qualities that fostered disdain among other executives. Apple’s head of design Jonathan Ive actually refused to sit in meetings with Forstall unless Cook was there to mediate.
Things came to a head in October 2012. When Apple Maps was released to the public with countless bugs and errors. Resulting in users being provided with incorrect or even impossible directions. The internet was overrun with memes about the dysfunctional app, which quickly became the worst service Apple provided.
The person in charge of developing Apple Maps happened to be Scott Forstall. Cook decided to write a public letter of apology for the app, admitting that it hadn’t lived up to Apple’s standards. Then recommending third party solutions like Google Maps or Waze. Forstall didn’t think an apology was necessary. Arguing instead that the app was good enough, and that existing bugs could be fixed in subsequent updates.
In the end, he refused to sign Cook’s apology letter, and was subsequently fired. With Cook saying that Forstall was impeding collaboration within the company. Which prevented the creation of seamlessly integrated products and services. Cook received significant backlash for this decision, with some critics predicting that Forstall may’ve been Steve Jobs 2.0, being ousted from Apple before it went downhill. Perhaps to return again in a decade to aid in its recovery.
But as we know, that’s not how it played out. Apple’s executive team actually agreed to divide all of Forstall’s responsibilities amongst themselves. If that meant they could finally be rid of him.
After just one year as Apple’s CEO, Cook had already done some serious restructuring. Like purging problematic figures like Browett and Forstall, and giving their head designer Jonathan Ive even more control over the look and feel of iPhone. Previously, his design jurisdiction was limited to hardware. But Cook gave him Forstall’s previous responsibility of iOS software. That meant Ive could finally turn the iPhone’s operating system into something just as sleek and modern as the device itself.
His vision materialized in iOS 7. The most dramatic and historic update to iOS ever. Something that wouldn’t have happened if Cook hadn’t made the hard decision of ousting Forstall. And while his focus on Apple’s growth never wavered, he felt there was more he could do for humanity at large.
Cook often mentions his portraits of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy on his desk. He says they serve as reminders to treat people with dignity. And he began searching for ways the achieve that goal with Apple. First, was a charity initiative where Apple would match employee’s donations to non-profit organizations up to $10,000 a year. Including part time employees. Next, he shifted his focus to Foxconn.
Where there’d been a concerning amount of suicides and reports of underage workers. He hired the Fair Labour Association to audit the factories and added a new webpage on Apple’s site called Supplier Responsibility. Which features an annual report outlining improvements made to various aspects of Apple’s supply chain. Like labor and human rights, and health, safety and wellness. Alongside the implementation of these humanitarian programs, Cook never lost sight of Apple’s primary goal; to create the best products in the world.
With iPhone 5 being a prime example. It was the first time Apple increased the size of iPhone’s display. From four inches to four-and-a-half. It may not sound like much now, but it meant an additional row of icons could fit on the home screen.
And individual apps could display more information at once. This was a huge step in the right direction, and customers made that clear by purchasing over two million units in its first 24 hours. Setting a new record for Apple.
Tim Cook was beginning to hit his stride, and there were no signs of slowing down. In his third year as CEO, Cook further proved his worth by making a crucial hire and released a pivotal product. There’d been a gap in Apple’s executive team since Jon Browett’s exit in 2012. They didn’t have an official executive in charge of retail. But it was soon revealed that Cook had been courting Angela Ahrendts for the job. She was initially reluctant to uproot her family in New York, but the move to California was well worth it.
As Ahrendts was paid more than any other Apple executive, including Cook himself. But many believed the investment was worthwhile. As she led the transformation of Apple Stores from straightforward retail spaces, to meeting places. Where visitors could sit, watch a today at Apple session, and learn about their devices capabilities. She streamlined the online store and retail stores for the first time, making the experience between the two more seamless.
And introduced a new atmosphere to Apple Stores. Which included trees, a new genius bar layout, and areas to sit and relax. Big changes also came to iPhone. Steve Jobs always resisted the idea of “phablets.”
Or phones the size of small tablets that featured dramatically larger displays. He thought a smartphone should be small enough to use one-handed. And a device too large would be uncomfortable to hold. But the market felt differently.
iPhone had been slowly losing ground to its competition; Android devices with big displays and batteries. So Cook decided it was time for a change. Moving from a four-inch display to four-and-a-half on iPhone 5 wasn’t enough to satisfy customers.
So iPhone 6 revealed in 2014 featured two models at 4.7 and 5.5-inches. The biggest increase to display size in iPhone’s history. The 6 generated a lot of hype and attracted many Android users. Selling a record 10 million units in its first weekend. But despite Cook’s success with existing product lines, critics pointed out that he hadn’t yet released something of his own.
That was, until the Apple Watch. In 2015, Cook led Apple into a completely new product category; smartwatches. And although the $10,000 Apple Watch Edition was crazy to most people, the entry-level model proved to be a hit. With 10 million units being sold in its first year.
Cook often described himself as a private person. Keeping his relationships and family out of the public eye. But he began to receive letters from children struggling with their sexual orientation. Some were depressed, some were having suicidal thoughts, and others had been banished by their own parents and family.
These letters weighed on Cook. And made him wonder how he could help. It wasn’t possible to respond to every individual who wrote him, but he could use his influence to set an example for people all over the world.
That’s why in 2014 he wrote an open letter publicly coming out as gay. Hoping to prove that ones sexual orientation doesn’t define an individual. Nor does it limit them in any way.
Cook himself was living proof that a sexual minority could live a fulfilling, productive life. In his words, being gay was God’s greatest gift. Since it gave him insight into how other minorities might think and feel. This news made Cook the only openly gay CEO of any Fortune 500 company.
But helping future generations didn’t matter much if they grew up on a planet that wasn’t even habitable. Which is why Cook led a number of environmental initiatives at Apple that had never been seen before in the private sector. He started off by hiring Lisa Jackson, to serve in a new position titled Vice President of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives. By 2018 she helped Apple power 100% of their global facilities with clean renewable energy. Although that didn’t extend to the company’s supply chains and factories.
Transitioning those to renewable energy proved be a bigger undertaking. But not one Apple shied away from. In 2021, Lisa Jackson promised that every Apple product would be carbon neutral by 2030. That means 100% of their materials would be made from recycled or renewable materials, the factories where they’re made would be powered by 100% renewable energy, and all of the electricity charging every device would be renewable also. This will require unprecedented collaboration with suppliers and conservation groups. As well as a world-wide recycling operation extracting valuable materials from discarded devices for use in new models.
Leading to a closed supply chain loop that eliminates the need to mine for additional conflict materials like tin and tungsten. The plan is ambitious and extremely complex, but Cook considers it a necessary step to building a sustainable future. Many praised Apple for taking environmental responsibility seriously, earning the company positive press. But this quickly turned in 2016, when the FBI recovered a terrorist’s iPhone.
They tried forcing their way into the device to search for evidence but were locked out due to the operating system’s security protocol. Apple was requested to virtual key to unlock the device, but Cook refused, admitting such a thing didn’t exist. And that creating it would be one of the largest assaults on human’s fundamental right to privacy. There was no way to unlock just one iPhone without threatening the security of every other iOS device on earth. He argued that a key that turns the lock of every iPhone would become the most sought-after tool in the world, inevitably ending up in the wrong hands. Many pundits in the mainstream media disagreed with Cook, and the public’s perception of Apple began to sour.
But through the entire saga, Cook didn’t back down. Eventually the FBI claimed that a new method of unlocking the terrorist’s iPhone was discovered, and Apple’s help was no longer needed. Now many have argued that the way Cook deals with his sexuality, the environment, or the FBI is irrelevant. A true test of any Apple CEO should be their products. This is an area where Cook initially received some criticism. Since he didn’t release a new category of product until his fourth year as CEO.
But once it happened, Cook didn’t slow down. In 2015, he oversaw the release of Apple Watch. Which went on to become the most popular watch globally in just two years. Next, was AirPods in 2016. Which became the world’s most popular wireless headphones, then there was iPhone X in 2017, and HomePod in 2018.
But to echo the words of Steve Jobs, Apple takes more pride in the products the don’t make, than the ones they do. For example; AirPower. A wireless charging mat revealed in 2017 that could power an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods simultaneously and in any position. This was a huge leap forward in wireless charging technology. Removing the frustration of aligning products perfectly on a charging coil, while also eliminating the need for various charging cables. The only problem was creating it.
You see, Apple had given a sneak peak of AirPower without having a functional prototype. Some industrial engineers questioned whether a product like AirPower could realistically be created. Since it would require at least 22 charging coils, all overlapping each other, in a super-thin chassis. Therefore generating an unprecedented amount of heat. John Gruber of Daring Fireball confirmed this, writing that because of AirPower’s overheating issue, Apple “either had to go completely back to the drawing board and start over with an entirely different design, or they’ve decided to give up.” And that’s when the speculation began.
Will Apple compromise and give AirPower a thicker design? Or perhaps include fewer charging coils that don’t cover the entire mat? These questions were likely floated to Tim Cook, who was heavily involved in the final decision. Ultimately, despite the embarrassment and financial hit, Cook decided not to release a compromised version of AirPower. The company’s position was clear in a public statement which read, “After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project.” Instead of releasing some version of AirPower that would guarantee Apple a quick payday, they decided to cut their losses and cancel a product that wasn’t up to their initial standards.
This might sound like something Steve Jobs would do, rather than someone with a background in logistic efficiency. But many fail to recognize that side of Cook. Who’d worked alongside Jobs for 14 years and recognized what made Apple such successful company. At the end of the day, it wasn’t because they delivered products faster than the competition.
But because those products were often the best in the world. Delivering seamless and satisfying experiences that their customers truly loved. Although it may sound cliché, I think Cook was being honest when he said each customer is a jewel. Something to be respected and not taken for granted. It’s why he reads dozens customer emails every morning to get an idea of where their heads are at.
It’s why he issued a public apology for Apple Maps despite internal opposition. It’s why he doesn’t traffic in user data despite tremendous profit potential. It’s why he stood up against the FBI and refused to create a master key that could unlock every iPhone on earth. He seems to truly care about the human aspect of doing business.
Which is exactly what made Apple successful in the first place. Steve Jobs always said Apple should stand at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts. And it’s something Cook quickly learned, and has continued to practice as CEO. That focus on what makes Apple successful is what helped them become the most valuable company in the world. With a current market cap of 2.4 trillion dollars.
Who would’ve guessed that a young boy in Robertsdale, Alabama struggling with his sexuality and figuring out his place in the world, would eventually become the world’s most powerful CEO. It’s an incredible journey that’s worth remembering. Because although you may not become the next CEO of Apple, you always have the choice to start an incredible journey of your own. This is Greg with Apple Explained, thanks for watching till the end, and I’ll see you in the next video.