The first full biography of Tim Cook, CEO, Apple, is said to draw on authorised access with Apple insiders. Titled, Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level, the book claims to be an intimate look at the man who led Apple to be the world’s first trillion-dollar company. It spans Cook's entire career, from joining Apple to becoming COO to being appointed CEO by Jobs on his deathbed and beyond. In the following excerpts, the book takes a look at the future of Apple from the prism of Cook’s career.
And though we don’t know what Apple is planning next, the company’s
Future Initiatives future does indeed look bright. But Apple’s success hasn’t been without setbacks. It’s going to be tough for Cook and Apple to follow the iPhone, perhaps the single most successful product of all time, but if Cook and his lieutenants are looking around for the next sector to disrupt, cars and health care could be high on the list. They are two of the biggest industries on the planet. Health care is the biggest industry in the United States, worth
$24.5 billion in 2016, according to the Inc. 5000, an annual list of the fastest- growing private U.S. companies. Logistics and transportation is fourth at $12.8 billion a year. The Apple Watch is on track to be a major new category in health care, but Apple’s car project, Project Titan, appears to be stalled, perhaps even moribund.Project Titan, one of the most ambitious and intriguing developments
under Cook’s leadership, is a secretive self- driving-car project that has suffered a number of twists and turns. The super- secret project came to light in 2015 when Apple was sued by A123 Systems, an electric car battery maker based in Massachusetts, for purportedly poaching many of its engineers. "Apple is currently developing a large scale battery division to compete in the very same field as A123,” the company alleged in its lawsuit, which accused Apple of embarking "on an aggressive campaign to poach” its staff and "raid” its business. Apple was said to be taking so many of its specialized engineers that A123 was forced to close down projects of its own and "scramble to find replacement [staff ] at substantial
cost.”Billionaire Apple investor Carl Icahn added fuel to the fire several
months later when he penned an open letter to Cook, which acknowledged the increasing rumors surrounding an "Apple Car,” which was expected to enter the automobile market by 2020. "We believe the rumors,” Icahn wrote. "While we respect and admire Apple’s predilection for secrecy, the company’s aggressive increases in R&D spending . . . have bolstered our confi dence that Apple will enter two new product categories: television and car. Combined, these two markets represent $2.2 trillion, three times
the size of Apple’s existing markets.”Cook reportedly approved Project Titan in 2014 and assigned it to
Steve Zadesky, a former Ford engineer who was then working as Apple’s vice president of product design. But discussions surrounding an Apple Car date back to 2008, when Jobs, who had recently introduced the world to the iPhone, started taking an interest in Tesla Motors and its new electric car that was making big waves in the automotive industry. Tony Fadell, former head of the iPod division, was one of the Apple executives who was
a part of those discussions.Fadell believed Apple could build a car, and he compared the design
of a motor vehicle to that of a product the company had already mastered. "A car has batteries; it has a computer; it has a motor, and it has mechanical structure. If you look at an iPhone, it has all the same things,” Fadell said. Apple seemed primed to enter the automobile industry. "But the hard stuff is really on the connectivity and how cars could be self- driving,” he continued, and Jobs ultimately decided not to pursue self- driving cars, in part because the automotive industry was suffering significant hardship at the time. But five years later, Cook saw an opportunity for Apple to shake
up the giant auto industry and put another dent in the universe.Zadesky was given permission to employ up to one thousand people
to flesh out the Project Titan team by early 2015, and A123 Systems wasn’t the only company Apple was poaching from; designers and engineers from the likes of BMW and Mercedes- Benz had also made the move to Cupertino to be a part of the team building Apple’s first car. They began by studying ways in which they could reinvent almost everything in a car, including motorized doors that opened and closed silently virtual or augmented reality displays, and improved sensor systems that weren’t as conspicuous as the arrays of sensors on other self- driving cars. The team even investigated the possibility of reinventing the steering wheel by making it spherical— like a globe— which could allow for better lateral movement. Apple had its sights set on Tesla talent, too. It was picking up so many former Tesla employees that Tesla CEO Elon Musk once called the Apple Car project a "Tesla Graveyard." "They have hired people we’ve fired," Musk told the German newspaper Handelsblatt in late 2015. "If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple.” Musk believed a car was “the next logical thing to finally offer a significant innovation” for Apple— but he warned
that building a car is very difficult. Apple discovered this the hard way.When Zadesky left Apple for "personal reasons” in January 2016, after
sixteen years with the company, rumors of turmoil within the Project Titan team began to surface. It was reported that Apple Car workers were being asked to meet unattainable deadlines, while the management team was unclear on exactly what they wanted Project Titan to deliver. Zadesky’s plan was to build a semi-autonomous car, which would add some robot driving
abilities but would still rely on a human driver, while Jony Ive’s industrial design team was pushing for a fully autonomous system that would allow Apple to completely "reimagine the automobile experience.” But somehow, what started out as a plan to build its own Apple-branded self- driving car has shifted focus to building systems that would power cars built by other manufacturers.In July 2016, Apple assigned Project Titan to Bob Mansfi eld, former
senior vice president of Mac hardware engineering, who retired in June 2012 after thirteen years only to rejoin the company four months later, working on "future projects” as the senior vice president of technologies. It was reported in September 2016 that dozens of employees had been laid on as Apple "rebooted” the project in an effort to give it real purpose. More than one hundred employees left a month later, at which point Bloomberg reported that Apple would give its automotive initiative until late 2017
before making a final decision on its fate.
The above excerpts have been published with permission from Penguin Random House India.