Friday, June 8, 2012

D: All Things Digital: Tim Cook - a big boss

On the occasion of the tenth conference D: All Things Digital, Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher have extensively interviewed Tim Cook. Apple's CEO obviously did not make outlandish statement, but made many developed on the company, its products and its strategy (a few video clips are also available & read Tim Cook on Siri and the names of the iPhone). 

 Apple without Steve Jobs

"The day he died was one of the saddest days of my life," said Tim Cook about his predecessor: "at the end of last year, someone shook me and m has said it is time to move forward. This sadness was replaced by determination. "Whoever acknowledges easily has learned a lot from Steve Jobs does not hesitate, however, to establish a clean break with him completely and accept his choices in recent months.

To those who judged decisions as a dividend to shareholders or the resumption of corporate philanthropy in terms of what they believe would have thought that Jobs, Tim Cook responded that it is precisely the wrong approach to the question:

Steve told me, when we discussed the possibility that I become CEO, "I saw what happened at Disney, people milling around all day, wondering" what Walt would have done ". "He threw me an intense look, and respondent me never to do that. Just make the right choices. And that's what I do. Does that mean that things will be different? But it was the best in the genre; he could change his mind so fast that you forget the speech he held opposite the day before!

According to Tim Cook, Apple's culture goes beyond simple casting: no matter who runs the boat until it is pointed in the right direction, that of innovation, focus, excellence - that's the theory. This means making decisions that were demanded by the shareholders and employees for years, as if an informal list of things to do was discharged only to return to more important products.

Tim Cook has held a party to erode the myth that Steve Jobs was the arbiter of all decisions about products, while recognizing its merits: "Steve Jobs was a visionary. My role is not to replace it. He was unique. [...] [The role of arbitrator] has always evolved. [Steve] has hired great people. "We know that the big Apple executives have always had a free hand, sometimes against the advice of Jobs - the wheel of the iPod and Phil Schiller and Scott Forstall iOS ... Tim Cook confirms however, that some Key elements of society will be called to a more prominent role and especially more public and more accepted.

If Apple can seem more open to certain points and if some institutional standardization is in progress (read: Europe Apple: cleaning starts), some fundamental issues have not changed, like the cult of secrecy surrounding these products. "We will double the bet on the secrecy surrounding the products," Cook said, while stressing that this only applies to what is necessary, future products, and not the whole aspect of society: “but we will be less mysterious about certain things. 

A point that Apple has a lot more press in recent months is that of working conditions among its subcontractors in Asia and particularly China. One of the first decisions of Tim Cook when he arrived at Apple in 1998 was to close plants and outsource Apple and outsource production, "Why do not us? We assessed the situation, and what others could do better. "He recalled that in the production chain, the operational aspect is handled by Apple - the Cupertino Company will invest in equipment to its specific place in the factories of its subcontractors. But he said other Apple knew better how to manage large-scale manufacturing of products.

In a context favoring global economic and social position of China as a world factory, Tim Cook Apple believes is better than average on issues of social and environmental responsibility. It should at least be credited Apple abundant and precise communication in recent months, often translated into action - termination of relations with subcontractors less respectful, audits by independent associations, direct contribution to improving conditions working.

While we talk in parallel relocation, Tim Cook has nevertheless insisted that some of the most important products were manufactured iOS United States. The Corning glass panels are partly made in Kentucky, and a growing share of the RAM modules and processors come from Austin (Texas), a mecca for the production of semiconductors. Apple's CEO further estimated that his company has helped create an app economy, sometimes estimated at half a million jobs, a vague concept and perfectly criticism. Apple nevertheless contributes to the enrichment of a few lawyers - at the mention of the word "patents", Tim Cook responded again "problems". Again, Apple's CEO reiterated previous statements, saying that the Cupertino company could not be "the developer for the world", whose innovations were simply taken over by the competition. Other companies (cons-) attack Apple? Tim Cook says this is first and foremost on patents covering essential standards.

We can give on this point largely because Nokia had such attack on patents covering the network connection, but Apple had lost because of his stubbornness in not wanting to pay royalties. Now more inclined to agreements, the Cupertino Company is sued by Motorola and Samsung first and foremost on FRAND patents, a practice denounced by the U.S. and European authorities. Apple attack for its very coherently on many details of what defines the identity of its products, a critical angle, but defends. Its role in creating a patent-troll, Rockstar Consortium, however, removes some credibility to the words of Tim Cook when he was in favor of reforming the patent system in the U.S., the iPhone UnisDe 4 " iPad 7 "via the Apple TV

Copy, it was also discussed when Walt Mossberg said the new strategy consisting of Samsung to focus more on a single model - "I wonder where they take this idea," replied Tim Cook. The journalist noted that the strategy of a single model, or at least a very narrow range was valid for the iPhone and the iPad, but had not been for the Mac and iPod. Apple boss said he was not to be limited to a single product, but that they were limited to what he considered to be the best, even if it meant in do more:

Our goal is to make the best product. Our goal is not to design a product for this price range and such a date, or have a family, or X to have phones. This is the best design. We have no rule or command that says "you shall have only one phone." If we realize that we need to do more than one model ... but do we need?

This is precisely the logic that led to the diversification of the iPod range: each model was addressing a different audience and increases the firepower of the entire ecosystem. Today, however, alter the iPhone in such a way to reach a new market must always be balanced with the need to preserve the ecosystem in place, "we are not victims of fragmentation. Look at the percentage of users who switched to iOS 5. We have a single App Store. We have a phone with a screen size, a definition. So it is rather simple if you are a developer. "It is from this point of view interesting to know what Apple will do with the iPhone, while we are talking more and more of a transition to 3.9". "You should come to our meetings! "This is the only comment that made Tim Cook to the evocation of an iPad 7". It confirms what everyone knows; Apple is working on the subject as it has done since at least 2008, although this does not prejudice a future in marketing. Nevertheless, he again asserted the specificity of the iPad and Mac face convertible that should be the norm in a few months with the arrival of Windows 8, mentioning again toasters and refrigerators:

    The tablet is different. She can do things without being encumbered by the legacy of the PC. We did not invent the tablet, but we invented the modern shelf. I love the convergence [...], but the products are made of compromise, you must choose. The more you look like a tablet PC, plus the weight of the past affects the product.

Apple's CEO was more verbose about the Apple TV. Last year, Apple has elapsed "just under three million Apple TVs" - 2.8 million to be exact. Tim Cook gave new sales figures: for its fiscal year 2012, during the past six months, Apple has already sold 2.7 million Apple TVs. This figure shows strong growth in sales of Apple's black box: we know he has sold 1.4 million during the quarter holiday season, it is sold in 1.3 million over the last three month, virtually unchanged, which is a good sign for a product that is not always easy to explain.

Tim Cook has obviously not responded to the question asking if Apple was working on a TV. His answer, however, is instructive, and again recalls the strategy that Apple guide: what is essential? With a simple set-top box, the Cupertino Company can control the show, without checking the screen - neither journalists nor Cook evoke the remote, which ought to be the main innovation of Apple if she continued her work in this area. The rest of the discussion shows, however, that all depends on the supply of content: despite the wishful thinking of Tim Cook, Netflix is
​​not enough. Again, Apple's approach is partnership and not of absolute control: Cook reiterated that the iTunes Store together 30 million songs, over 10,000 films, more than 100,000 episodes of TV series and that Apple does not seek to become a content producer.

Apple has nevertheless sometimes failed to connect with some companies: for example it has been the case with Facebook at the launch of Ping. According to Tim Cook, Apple's relationships with the largest social network in the world would be warm. Better, there would be "more to do with them" in the future, although Facebook has "its own way of doing things. "Tim Cook would do it no better than to show how Twitter, Facebook could find a place in iOS 6, as it is also well established in Mountain Lion. Needless nevertheless continue to hope that Apple buys a social network - it would just not how to do usual or expected of the company according to Tim Cook.

Finally, it conceded that Ping has not found its audience and that the future of this mini social network inside iTunes is pending: "We tried Ping and I think customers have voted and said it was not something in which they wanted to spend much time. "And conclude" Are we going to stop it? I do not know, I'll watch it. "

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