Kudos to Apple PR on Jena’s interview with Tim

McGregor’s profile of Cook in Sunday’s Post was a gift to Apple investors.

Jena McGregor has made a career of covering a relatively narrow beat. She writes about the theory and practice of contemporary corporate leadership, most recently as lead writer of the Washington Post‘s On Leadership column. (See, for example, here.)

Steve Dowling, head of Apple PR, had an exclusive to bestow: An interview with Tim Cook to mark the 5-year anniversary (on Aug. 24) of Cook’s elevation from Steve Jobs’ right-hand man to Jobs’ successor.

Dowling could have picked any reporter—what editor would have turned him down? He picked McGregor.

The result, on the front page of Sunday’s Washington Post, was a fortuitous pairing of talent and access—a gift both to Apple and to anyone with a stake in Apple’s future. Cook got a chance to frame 2016—a downer of a fiscal year—the way he sees it. Investors got a chance to feel better about their investments (flat year over year, but up more than 120% since Cook took over in 2011).

These bits struck me as material:

On the job of the CEO:

The traditional CEO believes his or her job is the profit and loss, is the revenue statement, the income and expense, the balance sheet. Those are important, but I don’t think they’re all that’s important… I have a maybe nontraditional view there. I get criticized for it some, I recognize. If you care about long-term shareholder return, all of these other things are really critical.

On falling iPhone sales:

I realize that the people who are focused on this 90-day clock say, “Oh, my God, the smartphone industry only grew by 1 percent or decreased by 6 percent.” You know, the global economy’s not that great right now. But if you’re in it for the long haul, this is the best market on earth… We have to report every 90 days because that’s the rules, but it’s not how we run the company.

On future products:

Products? We purposely don’t talk about that one. But you can imagine. Step back and say what’s Apple so great at? Apple is the only company that can take hardware, software and services and integrate those into an experience that’s an “aha” for the customer. You can take that and apply to markets that we’re not in today. There’s not a limitation that we can only do that in the smartphone area or in the tablet or Mac or watch area.

Is Apple doomed?

They were saying that about Apple in 2001. They were saying it in 2005. They were saying it in 2007 — ‘this stupid iPhone, whoever dreamed up this thing?’ Then they were saying that we peaked in 2010, then it was 2011. We got to $60 billion [in revenue], and they said you can’t grow anymore from this. Well, last year we were $230 billion. And, yes, we’re coming down some this year. Every year isn’t an up, you know. I’ve heard all of it before. And I don’t subscribe to it because it’s traditional thinking in a lot of ways: You can’t get large because you are large.

Here’s the link.


  1. John Kirk said:
    Wall Street focuses on future growth and if they want to punish Apple because they can’t easily foresee Apple’s future, that’s their prerogative.

    However, this whole “Apple is doomed” meme wold be laughable if it did’t have such serious consequences.

    First, Apple has a gazillion dollars in the bank. They could stop selling products today altogether and still survive for years and years and years.

    Second, Apple is the premier provider of the premier product of our time. Pick a time in history. Any time. Pick out that time’s premier technology whether it be steamboats or cars or electricity or televisions or whatever. Now imaging two things. First, imagine that your company takes in 90% of the profits from that technology. Pretty exciting, right? But that’s not the half of it. Second, imagine that the technology you actually make — smartphones — is going to be more ubiquitous and more influential than any product ever made…ever.

    Apple is doomed? Not so much.

    Do you want to doubt Apple’s future? That’s your choice. The future is not guaranteed to anyone or any company. But don’t doubt Apple’s present. You’re just embarrassing yourself.

    August 15, 2016
  2. Fred Stein said:
    I also liked Tim’s robust positions on taxes, large acquisitions, and security/privacy.
    Taxes: He’s subtly lobbying. Whoever enters the White House has an opportunity to repatriate over $2T (Apple is about 10% of this) creating a tax windfall of about $500B over the next four years, plus re-investments and increased dividends by top global companies.
    Large acquisitions have very high failure rates, especially in high tech.
    Security and privacy. Tim made a powerful case without casting aspersions on his adversaries. He carefully avoided controversy in an arena where politicians use fear tactics to push dangerous ideas to a naive public.

    August 16, 2016
  3. Walley Francis said:
    The more that I hear from Tim Cook over the years the more I like him and his/Apple’s approach. There are no financial games being played, no manipulation to meet quarterly numbers, etc. Simply a strong consistent long term approach to do what is best for Apple, its owners and the public.

    Apple knows how to create great products but does so in private to keep others from copying and stealing. Apple knows self restraint so as to not buy something just to buy something (the money burning a hole in your pocket syndrome). Apple buys things to assemble more pieces of the puzzle and to gain valued technology and abilities, not to create a conglomerate empire as so many tried to do and failed in the 1960s.

    Short term, Apple may be a good or bad investment based on the whims of the markets and the click driven commentators. Long term, it may be among the best investments out there as it continues to increase dividends and shareholder value.

    I have investments (small) in some other companies that similarly stick to what they know and do it well. They are mostly small pink sheet stocks but sometimes they grow move to NASDAQ. An example of this, for any who may be interested is The York Water Company which is a sleepy water utility but has paid dividends for all 200 of its years, longer than any other public company. It, like Apple, knows what it is doing, sticks to it and does it well.

    August 16, 2016
    • Walley Francis said:
      The York Water Company is YORW.

      August 16, 2016

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