By Graham K. Rogers
People are so used to Tim Cook appearing to be laid-back and cool, which his speaking style seems to emphasise, that when he let rip at a question from a shareholder, eyebrows were raised. Over the last couple of years, he has taken a great deal of flak with the main problem being the simple point that he is not Steve Jobs. He is not going to get round that. But at Friday's Shareholders Meeting a different Cook was on display.
He was the choice of Steve Jobs to take over the company for a number of reasons, not least of which were his skills in organising, which includes balancing the disparate personalities within Apple. An article on Wall Street Journal by Yutari Iwatani Kane, adapted from her book, Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs gives some insights into Cook, his unusual personality and his energy.
He was chosen, and appointed by the board, because he understands Apple. Over the last couple of years, it has been clear that Wall Street and most corporate shareholders do not.
Over the last few months, Apple has run a number of advertisements and videos that indicate how the user experience is so important to Apple. This was something that Steve Jobs was keen on, as is Jony Ive, with their concern also about the quality of the products on the parts that the user does not see.
Some of the videos have focussed on the ways that disabled people - the blind, those with limited articulation, those missing limbs - may still enjoy rich lives with the help of the iPad, say. Long-time Mac users will also be aware that the Accessibility Preferences have been honed and added to considerably over the last few years, so that people with limited facilities are able to use their devices more fully.
At the Annual AAPL shareholders meeting, held on Friday, as well as the usual motions, there was one question from Justin Danhof, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research Free Enterprise Project. He asked about Apple disclosing the cost of environmental initiatives and ending those that could take away from the company's bottom line: to commit right then and there to doing only those things that were profitable (Bryan Chaffin).The reaction was swift and many have commented on the visible anger from Cook.
- Bryan Chaffin on The MacObserver, included the comment that this was "the only time I can recall seeing Tim Cook angry". . . . reporting that Cook said, "When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind," he said, "I don't consider the bloody ROI".
Chaffin added, "His body language changed, his face contracted, and he spoke in rapid fire sentences compared to the usual metered and controlled way he speaks."
- Also reporting on this exchange was Mike Beasley on 9to5Mac who included a photograph of Cook's angry face that was originally from Mashable.
- The article on Mashable by Chris Taylor is a rehash of what appears on many other sites, but does not have the excellent photograph of the angry Tim Cook.
- In reporting on the event, MacNN writes that the questioner "was sternly rebuked by Apple CEO Tim Cook in an unusually direct exchange. The report adds that "Cook was visibly and audibly offended by the questions" and was further "described as "clearly angry" and as having "lost his cool" at the proposal.
The end of this came when Cook looked directly at Justin Danhof and said, "if you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock
The NCPPR put out a press release giving their own snarky version of events, which does not match what others reported. The opening paragraph sets the scene and is not what Apple is about at all.
The report also included Danhof's claim that "Mr. Cook made it very clear to me that if I, or any other investor, was more concerned with return on investment than reducing carbon dioxide emissions, my investment is no longer welcome at Apple" [my italics], which is not what Cook said at all.
A link to the pages on Apple and the Environment shows that there are a number of initiatives, some of which environmental groups such as Greenpeace have praised. Some other related information is available on the Supplier Responsibility pages.
Some may also be interested in the Apple Accessibility pages, including
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.