Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke with CNBC’s Mad Money host Jim Cramer yesterday for a two-part interview covering a wide range of topics. In the second portion of the interview, which aired tonight, Cook talked about Apple’s recent feud with the FBI, what Apple stands for, and who he personally admires.
On a question about what Apple stands for and what he’s most proud of, Tim Cook said Apple conducts business in a way that’s “right and just.” He pointed towards the company’s environmental efforts, use of renewable energy, focus on human rights, employee shareholder plans, and privacy efforts. “All of these things help us stand for something,” he said. “And I think that’s what people want.”
He went on to say that he’s proud of the products Apple makes that give customers the ability to do things they couldn’t have done otherwise, from giving a voice to an autistic child to providing tools for artists to giving grandparents a way to talk to their grandkids with FaceTime. “All of these things excite me because they’re bringing out the best in people,” he said.
Apple has always stood for building the best products on Earth that enrich people’s lives. Whether it was Steve’s Apple or — I don’t view it as my Apple today, I’m the CEO of it — that is what we’re about. And so we want to change the world through our products. We produce products that give people the ability to do things they couldn’t do before.
The discussion on Apple’s values turned towards the company’s recent dispute with the FBI, where Apple was ordered to unlock the iPhone 5c of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, leading to a vicious and public debate between Apple and the U.S. government. Echoing past statements, Cook said the FBI’s request, which asked for a new version of iOS that bypassed passcode restrictions, went too far and had the potential to put millions of people at risk. He said Apple had to stand up for what it believed in, even though it led to a fight with the government.
Government in general has gotten quite dysfunctional in the U.S. and in some other countries as well. What that does, I believe, is put more responsibility on the everyday citizen and companies to help promote change and improve things. And I don’t mean to play a government role, but it’s not just government who can change things. All of us are responsible for changing things.
Cook reiterated his hope that the encryption debate will lead to a discussion where different groups, from law enforcement to civil liberties groups to technology companies, are represented and can weigh in on the issue.
In a final question, on who he admires, Cook named human rights leaders he’s spoken of in the past and former Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
I had incredible love and respect for Steve and I think there has never been anyone like him and believe his contributions and gifts to the world were unbelievable. I also deeply admire people who fought for human rights and were pushing humanity forward. People who I think of when I say that are Bobby Kennedy and Dr. King. These people ultimately risked everything, including their lives, to push people forward so that everyone could be included. They were all about inclusiveness. I’m a great believer in inclusiveness.
The first half of Cook’s interview with Cramer aired last night and covered topics including innovation, the future of the iPhone and Apple Watch, the growth of Apple services, Apple’s performance in China, and more.
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