Tim Cook has been running Apple for five years and sat down with The Washington Post for quite a lengthy interview to mark the anniversary (and the company selling its 1 billionth iPhone). Steve Jobs had a somewhat tempestuous relationship with the media – favouring some writers and outlets for a while but then blackballing them on a whim – while Cook has long tried to present himself as more media friendly (well, media friendly in the way that Apple has been for decades – carefully picking and choosing who they speak to). There is a lot to wade through in the interview, but here are some of the key moments from our reading. There was, from our perspective, very little on music, but Cook did admit that they launched Apple Music too early (no mention at all of killing iTunes downloads).
– On Apple’s next big market: “I see enormous opportunity [in India]. There are still a fair number of people in this country who don’t have smartphones. They’re using flip phones or a feature phone. There are a lot of people switching from Android to iOS, and that’s huge for us because they have a lot more market share than we do, from a unit point of view.”
– On Apple hitting its market peak: “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.”
– On buying Beats for $3bn: “Do we need them? No. But we always are looking for companies that have really talented people and great intellectual property, and when we find them we do acquire them. To put that into context, we’ve acquired 15 to 20 companies a year for the last four years.”
– On Apple Music: “I think we got Apple Music out probably a little sooner than we would have otherwise. It’s infused some great talent on the team […] We are producing radio shows for Beats. We are producing some original content on video. We started that with a concert kind of video with Taylor Swift. We’ve got ‘Planet of the Apps,’ kind of a cool show. We’ve got a few things that are focused on Apple Music. Over time we may broaden that. We do view that the future of TV is apps.”
– On augmented reality: “I think AR is extremely interesting and sort of a core technology. So, yes, it’s something we’re doing a lot of things on behind that curtain that we talked about. [Laughs.]”
There are other points there relating to privacy issue (and the FBI), international tax issues, being a non-traditional CEO and (possible) new product lines, but the fact that music accounted for literally a handful of sentences in the whole thing suggests one of two things: 1) The Washington Post is not that fussed about the music industry; 2) Tim Cook is regarding music as just one category among many that is not worthy of much comment (and given the earlier points about Apple and media relations, it is pretty clear if Cook wanted to boast about the success of Apple Music and its future plans, he would have made sure they were talked about). Time was when music was front and centre of what Apple did (or, rather, what Steve Jobs did), but to barely mention something so fundamental to the company’s consumer-facing content offering (the shift from ownership to access) seems somewhat remiss.