Tim Cook talks with 22yo student: Innovation, education, motivation, more

In a new interview on the Chinese video-sharing platform Bilibili, Apple CEO Tim Cook talks with a 22-year-old Chinese student-turned-video creator.

Cook discusses Apple’s recipe for innovation, the influence of China on iDevice features, his two most-used apps, the importance of education and his driving force…

Tim Cook interview: Innovation

Hetongxue, who is one of the platform’s top creators with over 6 million followers, asked Cook how Apple innovated.

There’s no one formula for innovation, but what we do is we have a culture of creativity and a culture of collaboration. And these two things together, when they intersect, create enormous innovation.

You know, you put people together that have different skills, that look at the world differently. Maybe they’re from different places, they have different backgrounds. Some are software experts. Some are hardware. Some are services. Some may be musicians and artists. But you put them all together on a common purpose, to design an incredible product, and it is amazing what can come out of it.

Hetongxue: Yeah. So innovation is about putting people together, putting creative and different people together?  

Putting people together that are diverse in an inclusive kind of environment, where people can feed off of one another, feed off the energy. 

And you pick people that care enough, that really want to develop the best products in the world. They care enough to call somebody up at midnight when they’ve just had a great idea because they know that if they’d share the idea that they can make that idea go further. One plus one has always been more than two at Apple. And so that’s how we do it. 

The influence of China

Hetongxue: Is there any feature that is developed based on Chinese consumers’ feedback?

Oh, there’s a ton of features there that are. Whether it’s specific keyboards, whether it’s the QR Code mode. 

5G, in a lot of ways, was energized in China because China is so far ahead in the coverage model for 5G. 

Junction View in Maps because of the complex intersections and so forth. Night Mode was another one where…the inspiration for Night Mode came from China. 

His most-used apps

Cook said that the Notes app was his second most-used app.

I use the Pencil significantly as well. And I use the Notes app. I use the Notes app for ideas, to record ideas so that I won’t forget about them. And it’s probably my most-used app as well, other than maybe email.


Cook returned to familiar territory in talking about the vital importance of education in helping people create a future for themselves.

We’ve always viewed at Apple that education is the great equalizer of people […] And that means for us providing our technology out in schools. And we’ve been really impressed there with what we’ve seen.

We’ve designed curricula. Like Everyone Can Create and Everyone Can Code. And we’ve just given it away for everyone because we believe that coding and creativity are two of the important skills of the future.


Another familiar theme was when Tim Cook talks about helping people as a driving force for life.

I think you have to feed passion, like you have to feed yourself and so forth. You have to ensure that you’re constantly working on it. 

And the way that I do that is I surround myself with people I love to work with. If you surround yourself with people that you love to work with, then you feed off their energy.

If you talk to young people a lot, the younger generation is idealistic and believe they can change the world, which they can. And we believe we can change the world for the better. 

It’s that belief that gets me up every morning and to charge again, to sort of ask the question of what am I doing for other people? And if you keep asking yourself that over and over, it will drive you. It will provide the magnetic field that it takes to keep moving forward.

You can watch the 18-minute video here.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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