Tim Cook gets his leadership moment, but is it an Apple moment?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Tim Cook gets his leadership moment, but is it an Apple moment?
Unless you've been actively avoiding the Internet and news in general (in which case, how did you get here?), you should know by now that Apple has taken a stance against the FBI in a case over whether or not the government can compel Apple to rewrite iOS software in order to allow law enforcement to access a locked device. Rather, I should say Tim Cook has taken a stand, because it's unclear how much backing he has within his own company. I don't mean that employees at Apple believe that the company should aid the FBI in its case, but more that there appears to be a disconnect between Apple employees and CEO Tim Cook. 

Cook has finally found his moment to truly step out of the shadow of Steve Jobs with this case against the FBI. Cook tried to get his breakout with the launch of the Apple Watch, which is generally regarded as the first device that was his baby, but the Apple Watch was something of a mess. The Watch was nice enough, but the interaction methods were confused and it didn't have the focus that we've come to expect from Apple. That's not necessarily Cook's fault, because no company seems to understand why consumers need smartwatches yet, and Cook was always more of a supply chain genius than a product guy. But, standing up to the FBI has become his true breakout moment. 

Cook has taken a hard stance and handled it well so far. He has been sympathetic to those who support the FBI, but also understanding of the fact that the more people learn about the case, the more they tend to side with Apple. On it's face, sure people want to help the FBI stop terrorists, but once they have the potential ramifications of this precedent explained, they understand quickly that their own privacy and data is at risk in the long run. The FBI may only be asking for the ability to unlock one twelve phones now, but that number would grow if given the chance.

Cook has done well in explaining this, even if his first public interview had him repeating his talking points a bit too much, and he has gathered support from other tech giants like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and even Verizon. Each company likely has its own reasons for backing Apple, but support is support. 

This move is something that Apple has been inching towards for a while. It first set itself up as the "privacy-friendly" alternative to Google. Where Google gathered tons of data on you in order to provide services, Apple didn't gather that data (or provide similar services, but that's not really part of the marketing pitch). With this case against the FBI, Apple can push that idea to its logical extreme by positioning Apple not only as the privacy company but the security company as well. No phone from the iPhone 5s or newer can be bypassed in the way that the FBI wants, and Apple will continue to make it harder and harder for the company itself to access locked phones, let alone be able to provide access to law enforcement. 

Of course allowing access to the phone doesn't necessarily mean that Apple is fully protecting your data. A glitch in the law means that law enforcement can subpoena iCloud backup data without a warrant, and Apple complies with those orders to hand over data. 

Apple is uneasy

Even so, despite Tim Cook's impressive showing of leadership, word has it that the employees at Apple are having some trouble with the way Cook leads. According to sources close to Apple, the issue stems from the fact that Apple employees aren't used to being in this kind of spotlight. Previously, Apple was almost guaranteed to be the company with "no comment" whenever it was asked about... well, just about anything really. 

Apple never commented on rumors. Apple barely commented when there were big issues with its devices, preferring to fix the issues behind the scenes (like in the case of Bendgate, where Apple downplayed the issue but fixed the structural problem on the manufacturing end.) Overall, Apple employees had a long history of being kind of useless to reporters when it came to talking about anything. But, Tim Cook is slowly changing that. 

The changes began with Cook's open letter coming out as a gay man. That was a brave move by Cook, especially given that he grew up in Alabama and still has family there. But, it was also reportedly a move that put Apple employees in the spotlight and had them being asked questions that they're not used to dodging. It can come off awkwardly to plead the fifth when asked about the sexuality of your boss. It's much easier to just say "no comment" when asked about iPhone rumors.

This latest open letter calling out the government for trying to overstep its bounds has allegedly been even worse for Apple employees and they find it uncomfortable to say the least. This is a very divisive issue and Apple is not used to being on the front lines in a case like this. Cook appears to feel that it is the right move, and I tend to agree, but not everyone wants to be on the front lines when taking on an issue like this, or when taking on the federal government. 



1. jellmoo

Posts: 2627; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Tim Cook is handling this like a boss. He's taking a stand, and firmly is on the right side of this issue. How Apple employees feel about it is entirely irrelevant. So long as the board of directors support Tim Cook in this, Apple will stay the course.

6. TerryTerius unregistered

That both is and isn't true. If employees are upset enough with leadership, it begins to matter a hell of a lot what they do (or don't) think or feel. I'm not saying that is this scenario, but I disagree with appeare to be the premise of your statement. Granted, Cook is right. But I'm not convinced he'll be able to hold out.

12. jellmoo

Posts: 2627; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

A lot of that depends on who the employees are, what their function is and how integral they are to the operation. If it's everyone at Apple that's upset, then yup, that's a problem. I doubt that scenario though. If it's key people at Apple that are upset, it could be an issue. There is a big difference between somebody that works at the Apple Store being upset and key product designers, integral VPs, or development directors being upset with Cook. By and large though, when you're the CEO of a company making profits the way Apple is, you tend to have some leeway in the method you steer your business.

10. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3153; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

I'm not an Apple guy by any stretch, but I'll be one of the few who agrees with you 100%. As a leader, Cook needed to study the issue from all angles, get feedback from his inner circle and then make a decision. His position needs to be unwavering and if Apple employees feel uneasy with their boss standing up to The Man, they need to go sell flowers in Central Park.

22. belovedson

Posts: 1061; Member since: Nov 30, 2010

there's really a simple solution. create an app that needs special permission to be unlocked. the gov asks apple. apple says yes or no. court proceedings follow. a search warrant in this case an apple warrant is either opened or closed. with or without this cook's approval. phone is now unlocked or not unlocked. bottom line get these bastards. its so stinking obvious, that jihad and whoever practices jihad with whatever title they want to call themselves is an actual threat to our nation. we need to consider these so called outside terrorist activities are a bigger threat to our nation than our government.

2. cncrim

Posts: 1588; Member since: Aug 15, 2011

Pop corn time.

3. benno

Posts: 94; Member since: Apr 17, 2015

In an ideal world apple continues losing all is bulls**t court cases (stage 1 complete) then public backlash against their undeniable support for terrorism throws the whole business into a nose dive. By then end of 2017 HTC mobile division buys apple for its remaining patents and then dissolves the company. It's nice to dream

5. TerryTerius unregistered

I... Nevermind. No comment. Enjoy your weekend.

7. darkkjedii

Posts: 31320; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

You sound as stupid as TechieXP, and that's hard to do.

13. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Really? No matter how stupid I may sound to you, I'm still smarter than your stupid ass.

14. S.R.K.

Posts: 678; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

You definitely are. Wth does he know about tech? Nothing. I've never seen him having a discussion on any article on anything accept Apple..

19. darkkjedii

Posts: 31320; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

You mean except Apple, not "accept". You dumb ass.

23. S.R.K.

Posts: 678; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

Stupid auto correct doesn't work all the time.

38. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Don't blame auto correct for you looking stupid.

20. darkkjedii

Posts: 31320; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

No you're not, you're a whiny ass, dumb ass cry baby.

24. Zylam

Posts: 1817; Member since: Oct 20, 2010

Don't worry Dark, Techie has additional abilities to counter any competition for the lowest of the low, his racism card.

25. S.R.K.

Posts: 678; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

Another Apple fanboy, mmm. I will remember you. You are in my dumbass list.

27. Zylam

Posts: 1817; Member since: Oct 20, 2010

Awwwww I'm on your list. ***Blushing***

28. Zylam

Posts: 1817; Member since: Oct 20, 2010

30. S.R.K.

Posts: 678; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

Yes I do love Sony, but dislike Apple deeply. Yes we do.

26. darkkjedii

Posts: 31320; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Exactly. +1

29. Zylam

Posts: 1817; Member since: Oct 20, 2010

Glad we've got people like you calling those guys out, some of the stuff they say it's beyond phone and related and just insulting to humanity, I've got your back!

33. darkkjedii

Posts: 31320; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Right on bro. All these personal attacks that have nothing to do with tech, speaks of who they really are. +1

37. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Lol roasted him. Don't mind if I roast a few Marshmallows here. +1 darkk.

39. darkkjedii

Posts: 31320; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Right on Mxy.

8. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Holy hell lol.

15. S.R.K.

Posts: 678; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

Appleā€™s Battle Is Doomed to Fail Tech giant can't withstand the pressure of law enforcement, judicial will and the tide of political will. Rip Apple. We don't need greedy coward patent troll company.

18. BradyCrack

Posts: 835; Member since: Dec 29, 2015

Go away. You can't predict the future.

31. coldspring22

Posts: 349; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

Agreed. Apple is a giant patent trolling company. Despite it's army of lawyers ,it recently suffered a setback at hands of Samsung in losing verdict in Federal Appeals court. And it's iphone fortune is headed firmly south with Q1 iphone sales tumbling to 71.5 million and Q2 also down and this is much bigger deal than FBI controversy. Apple goes as iphone goes, as it's a one product wonder company.

34. darkkjedii

Posts: 31320; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Well then, that's a helluva one product.

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