Newsflash: Tim Cook really, really loves Apple. He thinks it’s great!
Big news, I know. But it constitutes about 90 percent of the interview of Cook that Bloomberg Businessweek posted today, despite that interview being a whopping 11 Web pages worth. You’d think in that much space, they could have elicited something more exciting than that. But not really.
Oh, sure. As my colleague Mike Cassidy highlighted, Cook did say that Apple plans to bring some manufacturing back to the United States, specifically of one of its Mac lines. Apple plans to invest $100 million in that effort and plans to start the effort next year.
But even that was somewhat underwhelming. $100 million sounds like a lot unless you consider that Apple had more than $150 billion (with a B) in revenue last year and has well more than $100 billion (again with a B) in cash and investments. And Apple invested more than $8 billion (again with a B) in property, equipment and facilities last year. On that scale, its investment in Mac production is a quite minor one.
And we’re not talking about one of Apple top product lines. Some people may still think of Apple as a computer company, but last year more than 70 percent of its revenue came from sales of iPhones and iPads. Macs brought in less than 15 percent of Apple’s revenue.
Meanwhile, there have been recent reports out that Apple’s newest Macs already are carrying a “Made in USA” label.
But I digress. Back to the interview. It goes on and on, through 36 questions. And, whether because of the line of questioning or the obviously very well-coached responses, you get almost nothing new. Instead, you get exchanges like this:
Q: You were CEO on an interim basis twice before. How is the experience of being permanent CEO different from those two stints?
A: There were actually three times. There was Steve’s first surgery back in ’04. Then a medical leave for half a year and then ’11. Not that there wasn’t public focus on those, but that public focus tended to be quick, and then it sort of flipped back to Steve. This has been different. This, you know. (Pause.) This has been different. So I have had to adjust to that. I’m a private person, so that’s been a bit of a surprise for me, not something I would have predicted. Maybe I should have.
OK. That’s enlightening stuff. Being the permanent CEO is different from being the interim one. How is it different? Who knows? Bloomberg Businessweek didn’t apparently think to ask.
We also get this exchange:
Q: You seem to be an enormously responsible person. Is that accurate?
A: I love the company. A significant part of my life is Apple. Maybe some people would say it’s all of my life. I would say it’s a significant part. And you know, I feel both a love for it [and] I feel a responsibility. I think this company is a jewel. I think it’s the most incredible company in the world, and so I want to throw all of myself into doing everything I can do to make sure that it achieves its highest, highest potential.
For goodness sakes, were these questions written by Apple PR? It sure sounds like they were at least vetted by them. You get an exceedingly rare opportunity to interview the CEO of the most valuable company in the world and you ask him to confirm your impression that he’s a responsible person? That’s one of the best questions you can come up with?
But it’s not just the actual questions that were asked. You even see Bloomberg Businessweek acknowledging questions it won’t ask. “I’m not going to ask you about an Apple TV, because I know you’re not going to say if it exists or when it’s coming,” the interviewer says. Well why not ask? It’s obviously a topic of interest? What’s the worst he can do, decline to answer?
To be fair, the interview does cover some other topics of interest, including Apple’s ongoing battle with Samsung, the Maps controversy and the working conditions in the factories of Apple’s manufacturing partners. But there’s little new here. Meanwhile the interview spends a lot of time on questions like this:
Q: Do you miss (Steve Jobs)?
A: I do, every day. He was a friend, and it’s — I guess the external view of that is that he’s a boss, but when you work with someone for that long, for me anyway, the relationship is really important. You know? I don’t want to work with people I don’t like. Life is too short. So you do become friends. Life has too few friends.
Like I said, enlightening stuff.