Steve Jobs knew Tim Cook is "not a product person," according to biographer Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs knew Tim Cook is
Famed biographer Walter Isaacson was one of the few people who were allowed in the inner circle of Steve Jobs and he spent a lot of time with the visionary Apple CEO in his last few years. And now, amidst the news of the departure of lead Apple designer Jony Ive, the person who dreamed up the iPod, iPhone and iPad together with Steve Jobs, he reveals a couple of interesting details that he said he "softened" in his book.

Those details all revolve around current Apple chief executive Tim Cook. According to Isaacson, Steve Jobs realized that Tim Cook was not a "product person" the way Jobs himself was.


Isaacson went on to explain that he has softened even harsher criticism from Steve Jobs when those harsher words were coming during moments of suffering. In contrast, the relationship between Jobs and Ive was that of soulmates: 


Isaacson also corroborates a recent Wall Street Journal report that claimed that Jony Ive has been growing more distant, did not attend all Apple meetings and grew disenchanted with Cook's lack of intense interest in products.

Let us remind you that Tim Cook who usually does not answer reports did make an exception and did send out an email to refute the story, calling it 'absurd' and saying that it showed "lack of understanding about how the design team works and how Apple works". At the same time, Cook did not specifically point out falsehoods in the report and did not counter claims that Jony Ive has been less directly involved recently. Jony Ive himself has not said anything publicly ever since the news broke about his departure.

It's interesting to hear Isaacson corroborate the Wall Street Journal story because it has stirred quite a bit of controversy. Some Apple analysts blast it claiming that it is based on scarce and anecdotal evidence, while others believe that it accurately portrays the sentiment of Jony Ive and the Apple design team. Isaacson clearly sides with the report and seems to believe that it paints an accurate picture, at the very least when it comes to the facts of Jony Ive's absence.

Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography was published on Oct. 24, 2011, just 19 days after Jobs died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 56.

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13 Comments

1. sgodsell

Posts: 7028; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

From anyone looking at what Tim Cook does, outside the company, from events, to shows, and anything else which the public has seen. Then it's so obvious that Tim is not a tech guy. He's a numbers guy, period. I bet you if Steve was around, then things like TouchID would have never been dropped. Steve was about bringing convenience, and adding any functionality to Apple's devices, which would ultimately make the lives of its customers more enjoyable, and feel comfortable to use Apple's iPhones. Tim only cares about the money. He expects others will buy what every Apple makes. Tim even throws around words like budget, and great value for its products, like the iPhone XR. Since when is $1030 CAD a budget price for an iPhone, or even great value? Apple has lost their way, and with Tim at the helm, Apple will continue to see market declines.

5. toukale

Posts: 617; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

So much wrong with your opinion, but since we are all allowed to have them, I will remain silent. We all the saying about "opinions."

6. sgodsell

Posts: 7028; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Tim is definitely not a tech guy, if you say different, then you are just wrong.

7. oldskool50

Posts: 962; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

Why is it, the only people that can be right are Apple fans? He is correct. Tim Cook is strictly a numbers guy, and when you look at all the iPhone's since the 5C, it's about making them for as cheap as they can, sell them for as much as they can and make as much profit as they can. PERIOD. The problem is, as sales drop so do profits. Now he is tryign to replace the hardware profit with service profit and you simply can't. Do the math. Even if Apple sold 220M subscriptions to Apple Music, at the vast majority being 9.99, that is considerable less money when you have an ASP above $600 for 220M phones. Even though Apple most certainly could survive as a services only company, they would have to drop half their employees and more to do so. Apple messed up when they priced themselves out of all their markets except the USA and parts of Europe. Canada is part of North America. Why does the XR cost $300USD more in Canada? Its the same phone coming to the same continent. And yes I do understand the difference in currency value. But I assure you that $300 difference is not all import/tariff's. it's Apple adding a few extra for their bottom line. Think how much they keep taking away and not giving. For $1000 think about what others give you that Apple don't. Android OEM's gave fast chargers from day one supporting the feature. But not Apple. Apple taking away FPS, headphone jack, lower resolution, lower IP rating and more. For a high price. For you to sit and accept something like the iPhone XR is a great price an deal for $750, when the it doesn't even exceed the S7 edge which was also $750 when it was new several year ago. The XR doesn't even match its specs. And since other phones running Android offer Apple-like quality at 50% the price, Apple sales are gonna continue to drop. By 2020 Tim Cook will be looking for a new job because iPhone sales even with a new iPhone 12, will still have a drop in sales. By the end of 2020, Apple won't be selling more than 150M iPhone and the numbers will continue to drop.

13. mackan84

Posts: 282; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

I think Apple does exactly what they should do to keep being relevant. Sell at a premium-price and when they no longer offer what buyers want they’ll have to change it up. They could just sell something cheap and not put any effort into it. But that doesn’t keep the strive for doing something good that customers will buy at a premium-price. It’s not all about hardware, it’s also software. iOS and App Store and the soc makes sure you can keep that phone for a long time with those key software-channels. The thing is anyone with an iPhone will bring money. It’s not only about Apple Music, you have iCloud and App Store as well. When Apple can’t keep current iPhone users as iPhone users they have a real problem.

9. Tsepz_GP

Posts: 1157; Member since: Apr 12, 2012

That is the biggest load of nonsense, lol! If you go back 20 years you will find that Apple are still well on course on the path Jobs wanted, and there are a lot of similarities now to what Apple is doing vs. the iPod days, e.g. Steve Jobs was concerned about cheap MP3 players and made the iPod Shuffle, it was still more expensive than others but was the cheapest iPod, and the iPhone SE and XR a lot like what the iPod Shuffle and Nano were in the iPod days. Tim knows Steve very well, but he also has taken note of what is becoming more important to users right now. You say Steve added features!? Lol, the iPhone was never meant to even have Apps, Steve was against it until the team convinced him that apps and services on iPhone would bring more money overtime and here we are with this exact scenario unfolding. Steve allowed the first gen iPhone to be released with no 3G and no Video recording, and a camera that did not even have AutoFocus until its 4th generation arrived. Steve was too focused on form over function. Tim has made all the right moves to ensure Apple stay profitable and is also diversifying their profit stream, as he knows Hardware will not bring profits forever, but rather Software and Service’s that complement good hardware which is EXACTLY what they are doing, with an added focus on Security and Privacy, something Jobs never really cared about.

11. lyndon420

Posts: 6599; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

I'm surprised that Tim hasn't brought back the iconic rainbow colored logo.

2. ijuanp03

Posts: 529; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

I'm not an Apple fan and i commend the first few generations of the iPhone but seriously they are becoming more and more obsessed with specs and numbers. Tim Cook is playing the Android game where the faster the processor, the better and you know he is pressured by Android OEMs putting more AND better cameras and having full screen displays.

10. Tsepz_GP

Posts: 1157; Member since: Apr 12, 2012

Lol, Mate, you do realize that Apple were among the first to put in multiple cameras, right? The iPhone 7 Plus arrived in 2015, when phones like the Galaxy Note 5 and Nexus 6P we’re still rocking single cameras with digital Zoom, the iPhone 7 Plus came in with 2x Optical Zoom and Bokeh.

12. cmdacos

Posts: 3970; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Samsung had multiple cameras in 2007. Several vendors including Hauwei, HTC etc has mutli cam before iPhone 7 plus which was out in 2016 not 2015. You should check your facts before you ' lol mate' people.

3. apple-rulz

Posts: 1940; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

Walter Isaacson loves to throw his two cents in, whenever he feels the need to stay relevant. This is not the first time he's come forward with "something he left out to soften the book". Jobs knew exactly what he was getting in Tim Cook, that is why Jobs chose Cook to run Apple. Now I'll make some popcorn and enjoy the comments section from all the wanna be CEO's on how Apple is doomed, DOOMED under Tim Cooks tutelage.

4. toukale

Posts: 617; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

Agreed. Reading his book on Steve one can clearly see Isaacson knew little about the tech world. I am a user and observer of techs and I felt I knew more about how that world worked than he did. Granted, I work in the space but listening to him makes me cringe. Whenever anyone invokes the work "so and so would never do this," I lose all respect for them because we do not know. The correct answer is "we do not know." Steve picked Tim Cook to be the Ceo, because Tim have effectively been running Apple even when Steve was around.

8. oldskool50

Posts: 962; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

First off. When Steve Jobs hired Tim Cook, Steve Jobs wasn't expecting to die of cancer. Steve was not likely considering that Tim Cook would have to take over the company, until he got sick. When Tim Cook made the very first changes to iOS, with that cartoony pastel color scheme, with those soften feminine colors, when they made the 5C, when they made the iPhone 6, and now the design was ugly vs the 5S; when what they should have did was take the 5S design and make it a 5.5" design instead. The iPad design has remain virtually unchanged, except it is more fragile and it shouldn't be. The quality of the mac, mac pro, iPod and all their hardware products has gone down. They have solely gone for make the product as cheap as we can, and make as much as we can from it. When Schiller was on stage announce the 5C specs and stuff, he looks like he simply didn't want to pedal that BS to the audience. The is going down dude and if you can't see why and see how sgodsell makes a valid point, then you are a clueless blind typical fan like we always talk about it. Turn your blinders off dude. Not all consumers are stupid. And the fact is, the majority of us can't be stupid with our money because we are not rich. We understand what value if and apple only understands what is value to THEM. NOT YOU!!!!

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