Tim Cook talks Forstall, Jony Ive’s new design role, Samsung, and more [Video]

Bloomberg Tim Cook cover

Update: We’ve added Bloomberg Video below

Ahead of tonight’s airing of the Tim Cook NBC interview at 10 p.m. EST, Bloomberg Businessweek this morning published what it called his “most wide-ranging interview as CEO.” We learned a bit of what to expect from Cook’s NBC interview earlier: Mac production coming stateside in 2013, and an intense focus on Apple TV. However, the Bloomberg piece also offered some interesting tidbits about Cook on a personal level, the recent executive changes, Maps, Jobs, Samsung, and more:

On the departure of Scott Forstall and John Browett:

The key in the change that you’re referencing is my deep belief that collaboration is essential for innovation—and I didn’t just start believing that. I’ve always believed that. It’s always been a core belief at Apple. Steve very deeply believed this…. So the changes—it’s not a matter of going from no collaboration to collaboration. We have an enormous level of collaboration in Apple, but it’s a matter of taking it to another level…. So how do we keep doing that and keep taking it to an even higher level? You have to be an A-plus at collaboration. And so the changes that we made get us to a whole new level of collaboration. We’ve got services all in one place, and the guy that’s running that has incredible skills in services, has an incredible track record, and I’m confident will do fantastic things.

On Jony Ive and his new role at the company:

Jony [Ive, senior vice president of industrial design], who I think has the best taste of anyone in the world and the best design skills, now has responsibility for the human interface. I mean, look at our products. (Cook reaches for his iPhone.) The face of this is the software, right? And the face of this iPad is the software. So it’s saying, Jony has done a remarkable job leading our hardware design, so let’s also have Jony responsible for the software and the look and feel of the software, not the underlying architecture and so forth, but the look and feel…. I don’t think there’s anybody in the world that has a better taste than he does. So I think he’s very special. He’s an original… I love Jony. He’s an incredible guy, and I have a massive amount of respect for him.

On Bob Mansfield’s new Technologies group:

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We also placed Bob [Mansfield, senior vice president of technologies] in a position where he leads all of silicon and takes over all of the wireless stuff in the company. We had grown fairly quickly, and we had different wireless groups. We’ve got some really cool ideas, some very ambitious plans in this area. And so it places him leading all of that. Arguably there’s no finer engineering manager in the world. He is in a class by himself.”

Cook described the atmosphere in the company’s weekly executive meetings:

We have an executive team meeting. It’s every Monday at 9 a.m. Religiously, all of us are in that meeting. We spend four hours together. We talk about everything in the company that’s important—everything. We go through every product that’s shipping, how it’s doing. We go through every new product that’s on the road map—what’s going on, how the teams are doing, and any key issues there are. We might argue and debate current issues. We might argue and debate future road maps. We may get to a point where we say, “You know, this one we’ve got to go off site and really brainstorm about it in a bigger way.” … Here’s another example. Every Wednesday we’re meeting with product divisions. So a subset of the [executive team] will meet with the Mac division and spend several hours going through Mac. The following Wednesday we’ll spend several hours going through iPhone, and then we’ll go tick-tock, tick-tock again.

When asked if he’s used the Surface or Galaxy tablets:

I have, yes. Both of those—and some others. What I see, for me, is that some of these are confusing, multiple OSs with multiple UIs [user interfaces]. They steer away from simplicity. We think the customer wants all the clutter removed. We want the customer to be at the center of everything. I think when you start toggling back and forth between OSs and UIs, etc.

On Maps:

We set on a course some years ago and began to do that. So it wasn’t a matter of saying, “Strategically it’s important that we not work with company X.” We set out to give the customer something to provide a better experience. And the truth is it didn’t live up to our expectations. We screwed up.

About Apple’s “awkward” relationship with Samsung:

Life is a complex thing sometimes, and yes, it’s awkward. It is awkward. I hate litigation. I absolutely hate it. For us, this is about values. What we would like, in a perfect world, is for everyone to invent their own stuff. We love competition. But we want people to have their own ideas and invent their own stuff. So after lots of trying, we felt we had no other choice. We tried every other avenue, and so we’ll see what happens in the future… We can separate in our minds the different portions of their company. They’re a big company and have different divisions and so forth. So that’s kind of how I try to think about it.

When asked about the story of Jobs telling him to never ask what he would have done:

So I go over to his house, and—I still remember how he started this discussion. He said, “There has never been a professional transition at the CEO level in Apple.”… And as a part of this, I asked him about different scenarios to understand how he wanted to be involved as chairman. He said, “I want to make this clear. I saw what happened when Walt Disney passed away. People looked around, and they kept asking what Walt would have done.” He goes, “The business was paralyzed, and people just sat around in meetings and talked about what Walt would have done.” He goes, “I never want you to ask what I would have done. Just do what’s right.” He was very clear… He was making this point, and he says, “I hope you listen to my input if I want to input on something.” I said, “Of course.”

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You can check out the full 10-page interview on Bloomberg here.

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Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & Electrek.co. He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.