Tim Cook might only be 60, but he’s already thinking about his time after Apple. In an interview with Kara Swisher on her “Sway” podcast, Cook weighed in on Facebook, the possibility of an Apple car, App Store rules, and his future with Apple.
Let’s start with that last one. One of Swisher’s last questions to Cook was a seemingly innocuous one that he answered with surprising candidness. When posed with the question, “Are you going to be at Apple 10 more years?” Cook has this to say:
“Ten more years, probably not. But I can tell you that I feel great right now. And the date’s not in sight. But ten more years is a long time and probably not ten more years.”
Cook said he doesn’t “have a clue” what he would do if he left Apple because “I love this company so much,” but it’s clear that he’s thinking of a time when he isn’t running the largest company in the world. It’s not immediately clear who Cook’s successor would be, but Jeff Williams is currently chief operating officer, the position Cook held before Steve Jobs named Cook as his successor.
Cook also talked a lot about privacy and the App Store, specifically about app curation. He expressed regret over the Parler standoff and said he hopes they come back. “We care deeply about what we’re offering our users. And when we have a news product like Apple News, we have human editors that are selecting the key stories. And so, they’re avoiding all of the misinformation that is out there. The reality is that the web in some areas has become a dark place. And without curation, you wind up with this firehose of things that I would not want to put into an amplifier.”
Cook reiterated that privacy is “a basic human right,” and admitted that “regulation is required” to fix the current “crisis.” He talked at length about the App Tracking Transparency feature in IOS 14.5 and said the release, which has been in beta development since February, is due in “just a few weeks.” He said he was “shocked” at the pushback from Facebook and others and believes “that you can do digital advertising and make money from digital advertising without tracking people when they don’t know they’re being tracked.”
AR and cars
As he has in the past, Cook once again praised the potential of augmented reality and artificial intelligence. While he obviously refused to “talk about anything that may or may not be in the pipeline, Cook offered an example for how AR could enhance the interview: “You and I are having a great conversation right now. Arguably, it could even be better if we were able to augment our discussion with charts or other things to appear. And your audience would also benefit from this, too.”
That offers a glimpse into how Apple sees its rumored glasses fitting into everyday life. Cook rattled off several industries that are already benefitting from AR—health, education, gaming, retail—and added that “the promise is even greater in the future.”
Finally, Swisher brought up the subject of the Apple car, Apple longest-rumored project. Cook was coy and vague, but praised Elon Musk and Tesla, saying he’s “done an unbelievable job of not only establishing the lead, but keeping the lead for such a long period of time in the (electric vehicle) space.”
However, he wouldn’t bite when Swisher pushed him on the Apple car, first saying that Apple “investigate(s) so many things internally. Many of them never see the light of day. I’m not saying that one will not.” When pressed again, he flat out refused to answer: “Yeah, I’m not going to answer that question.”
However, he didn’t discount the idea outright: “We love to integrate hardware, software, and services, and find the intersection points of those because we think that’s where the magic occurs. And so that’s what we love to do. And we love to own the primary technology that’s around that.”You can listen to the podcast and read the entire transcript of the interview here.
Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He's still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.