Steve Jobs Criticized Tim Cook as 'Not a Product Person,' Says Biographer Walter Isaacson

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jul 8, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    "Steve Jobs" biographer Walter Isaacson was on Squawk Box this week, and in an interview he mentioned that he "softened" parts of the book when it came to certain Jobs quotes (via CNBC).


    Particularly, Jobs was said to have criticized current Apple CEO Tim Cook for not being a "product person." According to Isaacson, "Steve says how Tim Cook can do everything, and then he looked at me and said, 'Tim's not a product person.'"

    Isaacson said that he wanted to soften certain things that he thought were too harsh in his biography of Steve Jobs. The book first launched in October 2011, just 19 days after Jobs died from pancreatic cancer.
    Cook was also mentioned in a recent piece by The Wall Street Journal, which focused on Jony Ive, who reportedly became "dispirited" because of Cook's lack of interest in the product development process. Ive announced that he will leave Apple later this year and start his own design studio, with Apple as one of its primary clients.

    Isaacson has been critical of Apple as a whole in the past, believing in 2014 that Amazon and Google had overtaken Apple to become the most innovative technology companies of the modern day. At the time, he specifically referenced virtual assistants as a space where Apple needed improvement.

    Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs went on to be the basis for Aaron Sorkin's screenplay of the Danny Boyle-directed film "Steve Jobs." The film was well received by critics, earning four Golden Globe Award nominations and two Academy Award nominations.

    Article Link: Steve Jobs Criticized Tim Cook as 'Not a Product Person,' Says Biographer Walter Isaacson
  2. anaudiopro macrumors 65816


    Mar 7, 2017
  3. I7guy macrumors Core


    Nov 30, 2013
    Gotta be in it to win it
    Interesting how this tidbit surfaces 8 years later.

    But “Tim can do everything” but he’s not “a product person”? Seems contradictory or maybe he got it wrong.
  4. cmaier macrumors G5

    Jul 25, 2007
    Weird how once every couple of years Isaacson comes forward with another revelation that for some reason didn’t make it into his book.
  5. twocents macrumors regular


    Mar 31, 2016
    California, USA
    Tim has been a good leader in his own right with his commitment to privacy, ethics in big tech etc., but it is just telling when Scott Forstall, Steve Jobs, and Jony Ive all had the same issue with him. Jobs notwithstanding, Forstall and Ive left before the ship started sailing adrift
  6. PastaPrimav, Jul 8, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019

    PastaPrimav macrumors 6502a

    Nov 6, 2017
    Yeah no kidding.

    All that matters to Tim Cook is how many days of inventory there are in the supply chain.
  7. markfc macrumors 6502a


    Sep 18, 2006
    Prestatyn, Wales, UK
    Tim is CEO, he doesn't need to be a product person...but somebody at Apple does. :)
  8. musika macrumors 65816


    Sep 2, 2010
    New York
  9. Pepe4life macrumors 6502


    Nov 15, 2018
    Walter Isaacson is an opportunist who wants to milk his horribly-written biography even more.
  10. Zimmy68 macrumors 68000


    Jul 23, 2008
    I have no issues with Cook not being a "Product Person". It doesn't have to be his job. He is great at being the face of the company.
    But make sure you hire someone who really is the product person and make them in charge of that area.
    Also, get rid of dead weight with 1990s ideas like "Fast" Eddy Cue.
    It seems like Cook is loyal to a fault.
  11. Mike MA macrumors 68010

    Mike MA

    Sep 21, 2012
    Well, Steve was a true visionary. Also on that matter.
  12. Kendo macrumors 68020

    Apr 4, 2011
    Not really. You can be a chef that knows how to cooks everything right (meat at the right temperature, perfectly steamed veggies, etc.) but doesn't know how to create a bold new dish by incorporating different flavors. So they are good at following recipes and perfecting the timing but can't create a new dish.
  13. ipedro, Jul 8, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2019

    ipedro macrumors 601


    Nov 30, 2004
    Toronto, ON
    That’s why Tim Cook hasn’t replaced Steve Jobs. No one will. And Apple knows that. Cook is an actual CEO, performing the tasks of a CEO. He knows to defer to people in the company that have the skills needed to imagine, engineer and market a product. He surrounds himself with the best people in their respective areas of expertise. That’s what a CEO is supposed to do.

    Steve was unique in that he wasn’t exactly a CEO in the traditional sense. He was a Chief Executive Visionary. Even while Jobs was here, day to day running of the company, traditionally tasks run the CEO, were run by the COO — non other than Tim Cook. That’s why he transitioned so seamlessly into the role.

    We’re lucky that Tim Cook knows that he’s not a product guy. That was the problem with Gil Amelio. He wasn’t either but the difference between Amelio and Cook is that he thought he was and tried to be another Steve Jobs. Someone with a lack of introspection and a self critical eye, who thinks they know best about what a product should do and look like, who has the power to push forward despite what people with actual talent advise against, could destroy the company. Gil Amelio almost did. Tim Cook, on the other hand has deferred to his experts, knowing that designing and engineering products is not his expertise. And Apple has flourished under his tenure.
  14. Dave245 macrumors 604


    Sep 15, 2013
    It’s funny how this guy keeps surfacing every year or two with different quotes that Steve Jobs is supposed to have said. Move on guy.

    Tim Cook has done a great job with Apple, no it’s not the same Apple that’s because it’s not 2011 or before, it’s now 2019. Tim Cook has had 2 brilliant successful products while he’s been in charge, Apple Watch and Airpods.
  15. jimbobb24 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 6, 2005
    Isaacsons opinion on Apple and the corporate landscape is about as useful as mine. Just another person with opinions ranting for free. There was only one Steve Jobs. Google and Microsoft and even Amazon don't have one. Every corporation must carry on with only mortal leadership.
  16. Sasparilla macrumors 65816

    Jul 6, 2012
    I have to say yeah. Of course, Tim doesn't need to be a product person - but, he needs to know that and make sure someone reporting to him is a product person (Williams might be okay here, we'll just have to see).
  17. bluespark macrumors 68000

    Jul 11, 2009
    Tim Cook deserves much credit for getting Apple to where it is right now. He built on Steve's company in large part by making the business of Apple a profit powerhouse. But I have serious doubts that he can take Apple much further at this point. The company badly needs an innovator who has a Jobsian sense of what technology could do.
  18. zunamo macrumors member

    May 4, 2015
    This guy making his money by releasing a new quote a year
  19. bluespark macrumors 68000

    Jul 11, 2009
    Yes, this could work if that person is a true visionary and if he/she has Tim's ear. However it happens, Apple needs new blood now.
  20. yaxomoxay macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2010
    Angela leaves, Jony leaves, and this stuff surfaces.
    Bit of a reading the tea leaves but it looks like they're paving the road for Mr. Federighi's role as CEO.
  21. BootsWalking macrumors 65816

    Feb 1, 2014
  22. DoctorTech macrumors 6502


    Jan 6, 2014
    Indianapolis, IN
    I disagree with Tim on his politics but I give him a lot of credit for Apple's commitment to privacy and Apple usually being among the first companies to jump in and offer financial support after a natural disaster. I agree with the other commenter on this thread who said the CEO doesn't have to be a product person but someone in the company has to be. Tim is a likable, relatable spokesperson for the company and probably one of the most recognizable CEOs in the country.
  23. yaxomoxay macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2010
    Tim can clearly "do", as in build up a supply chain. I interpret Steve's comment as he can do, but not "create" (as is, he has no creativity).
  24. cardfan macrumors 68000

    Mar 23, 2012
    The ceo doesn’t have to be a product person. He or she simply needs to be able to manage things. Besides be careful what you wish for.

    The notion that someone else can come in, be a product guy and have a Steve Jobs aura about him is far fetched. There’s too many sharks at top to allow that kind of thing now.

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