Bloomberg interviews Cook on being CEO, products, more

Highly recommended to Apple watchers, CEO Tim Cook’s lengthy interview with Bloomberg Businessweek covers a large range of topics, including some interesting insights into how Cook sees his job, relative to the famously bold and confident former CEO Steve Jobs. “…I love being CEO of Apple, I love it. It’s just something I have to, and continue to, adjust to. If you have some ideas there of how I can do it better, I would love to hear it,” he laughingly said, while noting that he receives hundreds or thousands of e-mails each day with comments from users.

Cook curiously mentions Apple’s “few” products. “I mean, if you really look at it, we have four iPods. We have two main iPhones. We have two iPads, and we have a few Macs. That’s it,” he said. Oddly, the CEO seems to be leaving out various products — likely the iPhone 4 and the iPad 2, perhaps shedding light on which products Apple truly cares about, while the Apple TV isn’t mentioned at all. New products seem to be the emphasis, and he proudly makes a point about Apple’s willingness to refresh its product lines later in the interview: “Eighty percent of our revenues are from products that didn’t exist 60 days ago. Is there any other company that would do that?”

The interview provides further insight into the company’s internal strategic planning, with Cook noting that an executive team meeting is held at 9 a.m. every Monday, and four hours are spent talking about “everything in the company that’s important — everything.” Every Wednesday, a subset of the executive team meets with each product division — Mac one week, and iPhone the next, for instance. Discussions illuminate the debates that go on within Apple as to current and future products, their roadmaps, and overall strategy.

Also discussed is Cook’s transition into the full-time CEO of Apple. Cook notes that Steve Jobs formalized plans for the transition in the summer of 2011 — Jobs resigned in August, and died in October. “Of course, we had talked about me being a successor before, so it wasn’t the first time I had heard that, but the conversation occurred at a period of time when I felt Steve was getting better, and I think he felt this way as well,” Cook said. “So from that point of view, I was a little surprised.” The timeline suggests that despite Jobs’ departing statement that the company had clearly been planning for the succession, the most critical detail was left ambiguous to even Cook until very late in the process.

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