August 4, 2021

Little Anecdotes from Tim Cook’s Epic “He Was Particularly Boring”

Bloomberg today draws up a rather flattering assessment (not without omitting the criticisms) of the« Empire Tim Cook » and the ability of Apple’s CEO to master the production chain like no one else.

If the article does not tell us anything major in the career of this former IBM employee who became president of the largest company in the world, some pretty funny anecdotes still stand out from the paper, through some anonymous testimonies. Selected pieces.

Tim Cook and Joe Biden, old « friends » and a first American factory

Tim Cook did not find Joe Biden in the last American election. Already in 2012, shortly after Jobs’ death, Apple’s CEO had dinner with the current US president and discuss with him, in particular on Chinese subcontracting, a very sensitive issue in American politics. While Jobs – and his legendary tone – told Obama that these jobs « would never come back » a few months earlier, Tim Cook was much more diplomatic afterwards, promising from the start of his mandate, the famous Mac Pro factory (from 2013) on American soil. It is she who will produce one of the biggest failures of Apple, an unreliable machine, not very modular and whose sales would have been well below projections, specify our colleagues – proof of the inability of the USA to compete with China, explains the article.

Donald Trump’s factory? A play !

Bloomberg also looks back on the inauguration of the pseudo-new factory dedicated to the latest Mac Pro, offered to Donald Trump on set, he who wanted all iPhone production to return to American soil. Despite the recurring flop of this production unit (costs, delays related to the supply … of Chinese parts, layoffs …), we understand that this factory exists only to satisfy the leaders of the moment, regardless of their political edge. During Trump’s visit, an employee at the time reported that Mac Pros have been exposed for « make it look like we’re selling these things like hot cakes », remembers an engineer.

Many employees have had a day off, and a privileged few allowed to stay mostly pretended to work in the background in their blue uniforms, according to another staff member. « It really was a show from start to finish ». Apple will be careful not to criticize the fake news of Trump about this plant, which was neither new nor profitable and above all confirmed Apple’s dependence on Chinese production.

Tim Cook, a “particularly boring” man

Looking back on Tim Cook’s long-term career through IBM and Compaq – a period during which Tim Cook was very close friends with Terry Gou, director of Foxconn– his entourage describes him as a very hardworking man, « up to 6 p.m. per day to send e-mails ». Cook apparently spent the rest of his free time at the gym. In the professional context, he is described as someone of little interest. « Tim has always been a hard worker »says a former Apple executive who worked with Cook during his early years at the company and who, like other sources, still speaks on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation from the companies. « I have always found it exceptionally boring. », an image that often emerges in testimonials, and unflattering on a personal level.

It trades to the fourth decimal place!

If we often like to joke about the excessive prices of Apple and the lack of generosity of the company – as for the sad affair of the Mac M1 development kit – this generalized stinginess apparently reflects the temperament of the Apple CEO. . A witness also remembers that for a simple USB socket – little different from the PC standards of the time – (and sold literally 5 cents per unit), Tim Cook had gone to negotiate this part. « up to the fourth decimal place ». The man would make cost reduction a real obsession, even if it means sometimes putting all his eggs in one basket – Apple’s ultra-dependence on China, endangered by Trump’s policy, recently pushed Apple to diversify its production sites in Vietnam and India, in particular.

Apple employees continue to go to China amid pandemic

How was Apple able to release so much product and produce so efficiently in the midst of a pandemic? While Apple employees used to cross the Pacific several times a week to check prototypes and production lines, one would have thought that stopping commercial flights to China would make the operation complicated. It was not, if we are to believe Bloomberg, who explains that Apple had sent its engineers there via private jets, by the hundreds and at the worst time of the crisis.

The iPhone 6, the “real” first product of Tim Cook

At the time of Steve Jobs, the design team was apparently working on its own, and then came to present his works to engineers, responsible for finding technical solutions. With Tim Cook, the two corporations were responsible for working hand in hand from the start. The iPhone 6 would have been the symbol of this transformation: no more difficult to produce glass back, goodbye to sharp edges … make way for a more robust metal coating and materials that are easier to design. We could summarize the device as follows: a little less design, but easier to assemble in the factory. Tim Cook would also not have hesitated to multiply the products (7 iPhone and 5 iPad today against 2 and 1 at the time) and drastically increase prices, especially on accessories, even if it means attracting the wrath of the public and making the range less readable – in fact going against the dogma stated by the late Steve Jobs when he returns to the helm of the company.

Finally, we could summarize Tim Cook in the famous phrase « Money money money ». For better and for worse !