Rock Center | December 06, 2012
>>> good evening and welcome to "rock center." the impact of apple on life in america is well established by any standard. they have changed our electronics and our culture and whether you're the owner of apple products or not, you've got to admit that much. as much as any company can be about one guy, apple was steve jobs . and now that steve jobs is gone, apple is run by tim cook . he hasn't talked a whole lot about his life or his business. he certainly hasn't done so on television until now. apple is famously secretively and while it took months of meetings and negotiations, tim cook agreed to be interviewed and we met up at one of the places apple has transformed. nobody remembers the guy who came after thomas edison . and nobody seems to recognize tim cook as we walked together across the teeming floor of grand central station . i like being anonymous.
>> as we walk, we're surrounded by examples of what apple has done to our society, both good and bad. people now live their lives while listening to the communicating with members of
>> and who else would have us believe they intend to be the one company that reverses hundreds of years of business history by becoming the one company that never fades away into irrelevance? you realize if you're a company that can keep amazing us consumer, if you're a company that can stay fresh without an expiration date, you'll be the first company ever to do that. there is a cycle, that circle of life , life and death , and you're trying to buck that trend.
>> don't bet against it.
>> we started our day with tim cook in lower manhattan at another of his 250 apple stores where we began the questioning with what's different about it. how are you not steve jobs ?
>> in many ways. one of the things he did for me that removed a gigantic burden that would have normally existed is he told me on a couple of occasions before he passed away to never question what he would have done, never ask the question, what steve would do, to just do what's right.
>> doing right has done well for tim cook so far. he's had a good first year on the job. the company's stock is up about 45% during his tenure. and think about this, he's already presided over the rollout of three ipads, two iphones and three macs.
>> it is beautiful. stunning.
>> you've got guys whose job it is to get this mesh right, to get this curve right.
>> to get it precisely right.
>> in fairness, however, this past year, they haven't gotten everything precisely right.
>> nice weather --
>> starting with siri, the small woman who lives in your iphone . the service amazed all of us at first, but then came under criticism for not being perfect or as consistently amazing as steve jobs wanted it to be. then there are the maps. iphones used to come with google maps until they set out on their own. but apple 's version wasn't quite ready for launch. it lacked some critical street smarts . and in those early days, god help you if you went anywhere near the brooklyn bridge or the hoover dam . it was a rare and public embarrassment and cook fired two top executives in charge. how big of a setback was maps?
>> it didn't meet our customers' expectations and our expectations of ourselves are even higher than our customers'. however, i can tell you, we
>> and you said good-bye to some executives?
>> well, we screwed up. and we are putting the weight of the company behind correcting it.
>> as for the iphone 5 itself, they have flown off those perfect apple store shelves. but buyers of the iphone 5 soon discovered they had to buy something else, none of the old power cords work on the new equipment. why did we have to buy new cords for this?
>> as it turns out, we had a connector that we used for a decade or more.
>> i have 500 of them at home if you need any.
>> but it's one of those things where we couldn't make this product with that connector. but let me tell you, the product is so worth it.
>> and that's the thing about apple , sleek isn't cheap. those white earbuds announce to the world you have a couple of hundred dollars to spend. it will buy you a product that works like no other. and the apple products you'll see are the ones people bring in from home. they're usually right there on the desk next to the computers we have to use for work. apple prides itself on being equal parts computer company and religion. apple fans get whipped up into a stampeding froth with every new product release. customers famously camp outdoors and then emerge triumphant, emotionally spent. journalists flock to those dramatic product rollouts as if the ceo is going to reveal stone tablets , instead of the kind with scratch-proof glass. and the culture of secrecy is designed to keep it that way. why are you institutionally so secretive? how is it that you know how many times i've listened to a bob dylan song or any other song and yet we never get to know anything about you guys?
>> we think holding our product plan secret is very important because people love surprises.
>> this was one surprise apple could not have loved, the new samsung ad campaign . it's blistering, bold, damaging. it portrays apple products and people who love them as somehow passe and uncool, even desperate. it's a blunt instrument disguised as satire and it's a frontal attack on a giant that would have been unthinkable not too long ago.
>> what did you just do?
>> just sent my playlist.
>> the galaxy s3. when do you think we'll be able to do that thing?
>> hey, mom, dad.
>> thanks for holding our spot.
>> you guys have fun. home by midnight, you two.
>> the next big thing is already here.
>> this ises the line for apps.
>> the unmistakable message right there, apple products are for your parents. samsung makes the really cool stuff and they're much more casual about it. they came along and tried to paint those with white earbuds, apple users as losers. they're trying to paint their product as cool and yours as not cool. is this thermonuclear war?
>> we love our customers. and we'll fight to defend them with anyone. is it thermonuclear war? the reality is that we love competition at apple . we think it makes us all better. but we want people to invent their own stuff.
>> he's talking about the legal fight between apple and samsung . they've sued each other in courts around the world over patent infringements. apple won the last round in the u.s. when a jury ruled samsung owed them $1 billion for stealing ideas. samsung was back in court just today appealing the judgment. sometimes the business of making pretty things is ugly. how tough is your business? how surprised would we civilians be at how rough it gets?
>> it's tough. it's very tough. you have people trying to hack into systems on a constant basis. you have people trying to enlist confidential information about future product plans. all of these things are things that we constantly fight.
>> and then there's tim cook 's larger challenge, the man who r rhapsodyizes about it. you have a grindingly simple and normal american life . when you and i as kids would go to a neighbor's house and see under their new tv sony trinitron , that would tell us something instantly. and you're smiling. and that brand lasted up until walkman, diskman. but then, fast-forward to today, it's less meaningful. how do you not become sony with all apologies to sony?
>> we're very simple people at apple . we focus on making the world's best products and enriching people's lives. i think some companies, maybe even the one that you mentioned, maybe they decided that they could do everything. we have to make sure at apple that we stay true, to focus, to laser focus, we can only do great things a few times. only on a few products.
>> but will the next great thing be apple 's long-rumored move into the television business?
>> it's a market that we have intense interest in and it's a market that we see that has been left behind .
>> what does he mean by that? tim cook goes on to talk about that. we'll show you as much as he's willing to say about what might be the next big thing when we come back with part two of our interview right after this