Posted by Ashleigh Allsopp 18 September 2014
Is Apple losing confidence in itself?
Very shortly after the 9 September event came two interviews with Apple's CEO Tim Cook, one a two-hour video interview with PBS chat show host Charlie Rose, and the other a lengthy Bloomberg Businessweek interview featuring some other Apple stars.
I love getting an insight into what's going on behind the scenes at Apple, and I thoroughly recommend checking both interviews out, but I couldn't help but think that many of the comments felt like Cook's way of justifying some of his decisions to all of those doubters out there, and also his way of telling his critics that he's not letting them get him down.
And that's fine, but it's a shame that he feels the need to do so. We love the new announcements from the company, but it almost feels like Cook isn't quite confident enough that Apple has stopped the doubters yet (he's right, of course, but I don't think they'll ever go away).
I've lost count of the number of times I've heard people say "Steve Jobs would never have allowed that," but Jobs was confident enough in Cook to give him the role of CEO before he died, so I believe we should trust in that decision.
Plus, I think that right now is the toughest time to be part of the technology market. There are numerous companies including Samsung, LG, HTC and more that are really upping their game when it comes to smartphones and tablets, particularly throughout 2014, so it's more difficult than ever to stay ahead of the pack. We'll never know whether Jobs would have managed to trump competitors with new releases this year, but I certainly don't think Cook has done a bad job given the circumstances. And the numbers speak for themselves: 4 million iPhone 6 pre-orders within 24 hours is bloody impressive. See also: iPhone 6 review
"Anybody coming out of [the 9 September media event] knows that innovation is alive and well in Cupertino," Cook told Bloomberg Businessweek. "If there were any doubts, I think that they should be put to bed," he added.
That comment, joined by senior vice president for internet and software services Eddy Cue's words of support for Cook was what sparked that aforementioned feeling that Apple's leaders have lost a bit of confidence. "I feel damn proud to be working as part of Tim's team," said Cue. "If he gets a little bit of recognition from the outside world, that is great. He deserves a lot more than he is going to get."
It's almost like Cook feels bullied, and honestly I don't really blame him. I can only imagine the pressure you feel when you are leading the biggest tech company in the world, with both its loyal following and equally loyal haters scrutinising the company's every move.
But during the Charlie Rose interview, Cook said: "One great skill I have is blocking noise... I think that if you get caught up in the noise as a CEO, you're going to be a terrible CEO, because there's so much noise out there in the world."
"Everybody's on the sidelines saying what you should do, shouldn't do," Cook continued. "It's sorta like the old Teddy Roosevelt quote in the arena ["It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deed could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…"]"
"Well, I'm the dirty one. And you have to block the noise. The question, I think, is did I have doubts, and the answer is no, and did the executive team have doubts – I think you can see in our products that we were all betting on each other in a big way."
Then there's that justification I was talking about. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch during the 9 September event, but it's not coming out until next year.
Jeff Williams, senior vice president for operations, oversaw the watch team during the development process, which included hundreds of engineers, designers and marketing people. In the Bloomberg Businessweek interview, he said that he's not sorry that the Apple Watch won't be available in time for Christmas. "We want to make the best product in the world," he said. "One of our competitors is on their fourth or fifth attempt, but nobody is wearing them," he added, taking a direct stab at Samsung. "We would have done the watch much earlier, honestly, but not at the fit and finish and quality and integration of these products… and so we are willing to wait."
Then, during the Charlie Rose interview, Cook tried his hardest to justify the reason Apple didn't launch a bigger iPhone previously.
"We could have done a larger iPhone years ago," he said. "It's never been about just making a larger phone, it's about making a better phone in every single way."
If that isn’t enough to make you feel better about Apple's decisions, Cook even mentioned that there are products in Apple's pipeline that we haven't even thought of yet.
"There are products that we're working on that no one knows about," he said. "Yes, that haven't been rumoured about yet. Part of some of those are going to come out and be blow-away probably, and some we'll probably decide 'Y'know, that one, we're going to stop'."
"A lot of what leads to innovation is curiosity. It's curiosity to begin pulling a string, and you see where it takes you. And a lot of what we do isn't apparent to the public in the beginning where it's going to lead."
I'm certainly curious about what else Apple is working on (isn't there a rumour for every possible Apple product already?), and I think all of Cook's comments are relevant, informative and insightful, but I still think the decision to do these interviews so soon after the unveiling of three new products was a way for Cook and the rest of the Apple team to try and get more people on its side. Perhaps it'll work, and I still think the interviews are well worth taking a look at, but I still think it's a shame that the company thought they were necessary.
After all, no matter what Apple does, haters gonna hate.