This morning Fortune published a lengthy interview between its executive editor Adam Lashinsky and Apple’s own turkey bacon-wanter, Tim Cook. Did Tim say some highly questionable things? Let's find out.
We advocate for human rights, because Apple has always been about making products for everyone. And, arguably, if people are treated as second-class citizens in any part of the world, then it’s kind of hard to accomplish that objective.
Apple is a company, Tim, and it doesn’t advocate for anything beyond making more money. Second-class citizens, like those putting together iPhones at Pegatron and formerly at Foxconn, are exactly the reason Apple thrives.
If you look at it, medical health activity is the largest or second-largest component of the economy, depending on which country in the world you’re dealing with. And it hasn’t been constructed in a way where the focus at the device level is making great products from a pure point of view. The focus has been on making products that can get reimbursed through the insurance companies, through Medicare, or through Medicaid. And so in some ways we bring a totally fresh view into this and say, ‘Forget all of that. What will help people?’
Private health insurance companies Aetna, Qantas Assure, and Vitality subsidise the Apple Watch, a bauble which almost certainly saves fewer lives than products not made from “a pure point of view” like pacemakers and diabetes pumps.
But let's get to the textbook, shall we?
And [Steve Jobs] thought one element of modern education was the digital classroom. And so at various stages, in early days, he was pushing Macs in classrooms. Actually pre-Mac he was pushing Apple computers in classrooms. And then iPad. Because he saw what iPad could unleash, he wanted to get all the textbook guys on the iPad because he saw kids walking with these 50 pounds of books, this little kid that weighs 50 pounds trying to carry 50 pounds of books. And also that the book was flat. That there was nothing exciting. So he went out and spent $10 million on one textbook to show what was possible.
($10 million comes out to about £7.5 million on this side of the Atlantic. That's quite a textbook.)
Coding class initiatives are old hat for Cook—he’s been pushing Swift coding classes for some time now. The long-term goal is to make coding a lower-skill job so developers will work for lower salaries under the guise of free education for the less fortunate. “What a nice guy,” the normal rube is supposed to think. “What a smart businessman,” the smart mark understands. But then Cook wanders off message and says a very strange thing about a very expensive textbook in a conversation that isn’t about the cost of textbooks.
What textbook is this? Did it cost £7.5 million or did Jobs pay £7.5 million for a regular textbook as some sort of artsy stunt? Is this just an oblique reference to some Apple technology that is oddly phrased? Is Tim Cook just making shit up now?
Steve Jobs’s life has been strip-mined for anecdotes, and this particular incident—to the best of our knowledge—has never been addressed in books, movies, and thousands of articles about him. In the remainder of the Fortune interview, it’s not brought up again either. We got in touch with Adam Lashinsky to see if he had any insights into what his comment meant. “Great question,” he replied via email. “If I have more I’ll publish it, but good luck to you in the meantime.”
We reached out to Apple to learn... anything at all about this. In the meantime, what do you think Tim is talking about? Because we have no damn clue. [Fortune]