Apple’s Tim Cook, Jony Ive, Craig Federighi answer critics in Bloomberg interview

September 19, 2013

Apple’s top executives answered critics Thursday, in a lengthy Bloomberg Businessweek interview that addresses everything from Android to China to Apple’s pace of innovation.

Bloomberg’s Sam Grobart sat down with Apple chief executive Tim Cook, senior vice president of design Jony Ive and senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi to address some of the harshest criticisms about the firm, including that the company has lost its ability to create products that lead consumer tech trends.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the executives think Apple’s doing just fine. But the interview does offer several insights into how Cook, Ive and Federighi think about the company strategy. Here are some of the highlights from Grobart’s piece.

Not worried about the share price slide: Apple’s down 33 percent from its peak trading price of $705.07. Tim Cook told Bloomberg he tries not to let changes in the stock price affect him too much.

“I don’t feel euphoric on the up, and I don’t slit my wrists when it goes down,” he said. “I have ridden the roller coaster too many times for that.”

Not that he’s ignoring it. “Am I happy about that? No, I’m not,” Cook told Grobart later in the interview. “You have to bring yourself back to, ‘Are you doing the right things?’ And so that’s what I focus on, instead of letting somebody else or a thing like the market define how I should feel.”

On innovation: One of Apple’s central philosophies has always been that it matters more to make a good product than a trendy one. There are plenty of illustrations of this, from the way the company moved into the tablet world to its steadfast position to keep the iPhone’s screen at 4 inches.

Ive articulates this by noting that each feature in iOS 7 came after long, careful thought.

“We didn’t start opportunistically with 10 bits of technology that we could try to find a use for to add to our features list,” Ive told Grobart.

Federighi then chimes in with what may be the piece’s most tweetable line: “New? New is easy. Right is hard.”

On competing products: Grobart’s article also notes that even as Apple’s facing questions about its strategy, several of the company’s closest competitors are adopting the same sort of end-to-end production that lets Apple maintain such tight control over its ecosystem.

The most recent example of this is Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Nokia, which gets it an in-house mobile phone unit.

“Everybody is trying to adopt Apple’s strategy,” Cook told Grobart, referencing that deal. “We’re not looking for external validation of our strategy, but I think it does suggest that there’s a lot of copying, kind of, on the strategy and that people have recognized that importance.”

Comparisons to Microsoft?: It’s been tempting for many analysts and journalists to compare the mobile operating systems of Apple and Google’s Android to the personal computing battle between Apple and Microsoft. But, the report says, Cook thinks this analogy is “misleading.”

“Microsoft kept things the same, and the level of fragmentation wasn’t as much,” he said. “There weren’t so many derivative works out there with Windows.”

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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