Apple CEO Tim Cook says close relationship with customers drives sales, improves products

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Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook appeared at the launch of the Oxford Foundry business and tech incubator, and spoke for an hour to students of the university on his relationship with Steve Jobs, Apple's responsibility to customers, and what inspires him as the head of the company.




Cook started talked about why he started working for Apple. Citing an early identity crisis personally and professionally, Cook realized as a young man that he didn't want to go the way of his father, and wanted to both enjoy what he did for a living, and "serve humanity, in a broad way."

It was only well after joining Apple against the advice of his peers, that he found what he was looking for.

Customers wants and needs

Cook noted that focus groups don't work for Apple, because most people will suggest small changes to the existing thing are ideal, rather than larger sea changes to drive the industry and technology forward.

"Your focus group is yourself. You should make products that you want to use", said Cook. "You can bet that if you love it, then there are many other people that will love it too."

Apple retail was founded with keeping close to customers, Cook added, as listening to feedback from existing customers remains important to the company. As part of staying connected to customers, Cook said that he spends the first hour of his day going through customer emails.

Inspiration

Apple's CEO looks to his customers for inspiration.

"I look to heroes, and to how our products are used," said Cook. "Someone who is using the tools that we made to do something big in the world."

Visiting Apple's customers and content producers is "better than any Prozac I can buy," quipped Cook.

Tim Cook and Steve Jobs

"Working with Steve was a privilege of a lifetime. Steve taught me that the joy was in the journey, and not in the final thing," Cook said, in response to a question about the Apple founder. "Steve taught me the importance of focus. You have to be ruthless in what you choose to be great at."

Apple's present is firmly rooted in Jobs's founding principles added Cook, including the concept not shooting for the most sales of any one thing -- even though it may happen along the way.

"I don't think anyone is like him. I've always felt that Steve was not replaceable," said Cook. "I don't feel like I replaced him."

"Steve, of every one I ever have known in life, could be the most avid proponent of one position," Cook reminisced about Jobs in a question about failure. "In hours or days if new information came up, you would think that he never, ever thought that before."

Apple as exit plan

As the question and answer session started, Cook was critical about companies selling out to Google, Facebook, or Apple as a matter of money generation.

"If a venture capitalist ever asks you [about an exit plan]," Cook said. "You should get up and leave the room."

On the road ahead

Cook wasn't asked about future Apple products. When asked about future technologies like quantum computing, and other mostly hardware-related advancements, Cook reiterated his stance of augmented reality being a driving force for the future, and a technology he remains the most excited about.





The Oxford Foundry will serve as Oxford's first dedicated space for entrepreneurial endeavors. The building, formerly an ice factory, sits at the center of Oxford's college city and has been transformed into a modern entrepreneurial hub with meeting rooms, free Wi-Fi and desk space for budding business teams.

Oxford says The Foundry will provide students with access to support funds, host workshops, run competitions and hackathons, manage an e-library and more. Select startups can also take advantage of the Amersi Foundation Accelerator space. Students retain control of any intellectual property that they develop.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    dougddougd Posts: 180member
    I'm not buying it. As far as I can tell they're deaf to criticism and suggestions
    sunwukongdysamoria
  • Reply 2 of 15
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,353member
    dougd said:
    I'm not buying it. As far as I can tell they're deaf to criticism and suggestions
    Doesn't everyone say that about every company? You have to realize that Apple gets thousands of suggestions and criticisms everyday. Apple can't satisfy everyone. Just because they're not doing what you and a couple of your friends/co-workers want them to do doesn't mean they aren't listening to customers. 
    chabigSolirandominternetpersonPickUrPoisonStrangeDayslollivermuthuk_vanalingamjony0
  • Reply 3 of 15
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,095member
    dougd said:
    I'm not buying it. As far as I can tell they're deaf to criticism and suggestions

    And rightfully so.  If Apple listened to every 2-cent-opinion, you get the "Homer Mobile" we call Android.  Does everything, but nothing well.  Apple's success with the iPhone proves that they have a formula that works.

    tmayPickUrPoisoncaliStrangeDayspatchythepirateradarthekatlolliverJWSCjony0
  • Reply 4 of 15
    dougd said:
    I'm not buying it. As far as I can tell they're deaf to criticism and suggestions
    Umm.. sometimes they can be... but i have seen them also listen and make quick adjustments. Their response to the Pro market computing and Displays last summer was one such example .
    radarthekatlolliverJWSCjony0
  • Reply 5 of 15
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,337member
    dougd said:
    I'm not buying it. As far as I can tell they're deaf to criticism and suggestions
    How many other CEOs do you see responding to emails from customers?

    And speaking of deaf, or rather Accessibly options in general, what other CEO has ever said this: 

    "When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind I don't consider the bloody ROI." 


    anantksundaramStrangeDaysradarthekatlolliverJWSCjony0
  • Reply 6 of 15
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,706member
    dougd said:
    I'm not buying it. As far as I can tell they're deaf to criticism and suggestions
    Umm.. sometimes they can be... but i have seen them also listen and make quick adjustments. Their response to the Pro market computing and Displays last summer was one such example .
    Are you kidding? That was almost five years too late. The first thing they did was present the "Pro" iMac they'd already been working on...
    randominternetperson
  • Reply 7 of 15
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,706member

    sflocal said:
    dougd said:
    I'm not buying it. As far as I can tell they're deaf to criticism and suggestions

    And rightfully so.  If Apple listened to every 2-cent-opinion, you get the "Homer Mobile" we call Android.  Does everything, but nothing well.  Apple's success with the iPhone proves that they have a formula that works.

    Formula is the problem with Apple. They've established a marketing formula, trying desperately to hold on to the position into which iPhone placed them, slowly abandoning everything else. It's a mindless procession of acts to serve shareholders and Wall Street; not leadership, not shaping the future, and not serving humanity. 

    As for the Homer Mobile, you're missing the point and obfuscating it at the same time by furthering a myth about what the real complaints are. It's not the random feature requests Apple is demonstrating deafness to. It's the loss of usability in both software and hardware. The loss of pro-level functionality and the oversimplification of previously much more capable software. It's the ignoring of bug reports on bugs lingering since 2013 and iOS 7's initial release and in betas of new versions.

    It's everything else Apple did to wreck the previously brilliant and usable iOS, back in 2013; stuff that many well-spoken, trained, and experienced UI experts have told them they shouldn't have done (to which mindless Apple fans cry "expertise is arrogance!!"). Apple themselves did some of that research they've chosen to ignore in their current GUI motif. As a result, Apple have stopped listening to even themselves, which is weird since lots of that was virtually invented at Apple and Apple has a "not invented here" personality issue.
  • Reply 8 of 15
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,000member
    dougd said:
    I'm not buying it. As far as I can tell they're deaf to criticism and suggestions
    Yes, they are deaf to criticism and suggestions from tech wannabes who think they know everything, and they are especially deaf to comment sections on Internet blogs where  blathering nonsense is the norm.
    PickUrPoisoncaliStrangeDaysradarthekatlolliverJWSCjony0
  • Reply 9 of 15
    Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook...
    ...Citing an early identity crisis personally and professionally, Cook realized as a young man that he didn't want to go the way of his father, and wanted to both enjoy what he did for a living, and "serve humanity, in a broad way.
    Wonder how to interpret this? IMHO, Doesn't sound like Tim and and 'Ole Dad necessarily saw eye to eye...
  • Reply 10 of 15
    dougd said:
    I'm not buying it. As far as I can tell they're deaf to criticism and suggestions
    Just because they don’t want yours doesn’t mean that’s true. Unless you’ve worked inside headquarters I have to question your credibility on how they deal with criticism.
    edited October 2017 lolliver
  • Reply 11 of 15
    tshapitshapi Posts: 277member
    dougd said:
    I'm not buying it. As far as I can tell they're deaf to criticism and suggestions
    Apple builds a close relationship with its customer base. By building products and apps that just work. By making issues, customers find important key elements in its products. Apple doesmt need to personally respond tk every Criticism and suggestion.  The signs that it listens most of the time, show up in its products. 
    jony0
  • Reply 12 of 15
    chasmchasm Posts: 581member
    mobird said:
    Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook...
    ...Citing an early identity crisis personally and professionally, Cook realized as a young man that he didn't want to go the way of his father, and wanted to both enjoy what he did for a living, and "serve humanity, in a broad way.
    Wonder how to interpret this? IMHO, Doesn't sound like Tim and and 'Ole Dad necessarily saw eye to eye...
    I don't think there's a hidden message there in any way, shape, or form that needs "interpreting." His father (named Donald) was a shipyard worker. Cook decided he didn't want to follow in his father's footsteps on that front. Based on his college career, it's pretty obvious to me that young Mr. Cook saw himself as managerial/executive material, and that's probably what he meant by that. He could have ALSO meant that he didn't agree with his father's religion or views on other topics as well, but as he was talking about his career I don't think there's much subtext to read into it beyond "didn't want to do the kind of work his father did."
    jony0
  • Reply 13 of 15
    It’s always matter of definition, mine about close relationships is totally different.

    After I had my iPad stolen on the airport I’ve put some efforts ( mails to support both iPad and iPhone and event sent paid messages on LinkedIn to several Apple executives ) to share very simple idea how to make it more difficult for thieves. It’s just an option to have the owner verification (touchID, faceID, pin actually whatever) during process of shouting down the Apple stuff. It would just keep “find my iPhone” active and easy to locate.

    guess what: I’ve never received any single reply!

    I like Apple stuff, the UX is excellent but calling itself to have close relationship with customers is really self cheating or being cheated by own staff.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,687administrator
    sebwrobel said:
    It’s always matter of definition, mine about close relationships is totally different.

    After I had my iPad stolen on the airport I’ve put some efforts ( mails to support both iPad and iPhone and event sent paid messages on LinkedIn to several Apple executives ) to share very simple idea how to make it more difficult for thieves. It’s just an option to have the owner verification (touchID, faceID, pin actually whatever) during process of shouting down the Apple stuff. It would just keep “find my iPhone” active and easy to locate.

    guess what: I’ve never received any single reply!

    I like Apple stuff, the UX is excellent but calling itself to have close relationship with customers is really self cheating or being cheated by own staff.
    I don't think that I need to point this out, but I will anyway. Because they haven't responded to you doesn't mean that they don't respond to anybody, or haven't read your mail.

    It's a scale issue. Even at the lowest ebb of apple customers, users still outnumbered employees that were allowed to respond to emails many tens of thousands to one.
    edited October 2017 dysamoriajony0
  • Reply 15 of 15
    I have news for you Tim. We had a close relationship until iOS11 made my iPhone the wonkiest and least useful iPhone I have owned (I started with the first one). Can you not do more than sell, but please deliver. It is frustrating daily, hourly. I never cared about the Android phones my friends have, not once, but now I am thinking it's time for a demo. The Podcasts update? What a joke. Less useful than in the past, and stunningly bad. Do your people use the software? If so, I am worried about them. Great for fancy look, huge icons. I click recently downloaded ("today") Marketplace Tech. It's from August. While I weave on the road I am able to dig up the one from "today." Seriously??
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