“We do allow ourselves to fail”

(Pocket-lint) – Apple’s Tim Cook was candid on Apple’s development process and other topics during a fireside chat at the VivaTech startup and innovation conference in Paris. 

Cook appeared virtually and was happy to answer various questions posed by film producer Guillaume Lacroix.

“We do allow ourselves to fail. We try to fail internally instead of externally because we don’t want to involve customers [with] failure. But we do develop things and then subsequently decide not to ship. We begin going down a certain road and sometimes adjust significantly because of a discovery that we make in that process.

“Failing is a part of life. And it’s a part of [life] whether you’re a new company a startup or you’re a company that’s been around for a while. If you’re not failing. You’re not trying enough different things.”

When asked about iPhone 13, Cook said “Well, it’ll be better than iPhone 12 And you can count on that. And it will solve more problems for people. At the root of it what Apple is all about, is about making the best products that really enrich people’s lives, and we will not work on one that we don’t feel like we can do it. You like to meet that mission.

“And so we only do a few things, and iPhone is one of those few things that we do. And so you can always count on it getting better, and solving more problems for people.”

On Apple’s future, Cook sounded quite philosophical: “I’m not one of those people that is going to say I can see 20 years out and 30 years out and tell you what is going to happen, I can’t. I really don’t believe anyone can. So we approach it with great humility.” 

Cook cited the example of Apple’s own chip development: “We didn’t know when we were working on the chip for the iPhone, that it would become the heart of the iPad, and we didn’t know that it would eventually become the heart of the Mac as it just did in this past year, we didn’t know that.

“But we kept discovering, and we kept pulling the string and we kept our minds open about where that would where that journey would take us. And it’s taken us somewhere that’s incredible. And that, that has a great future ahead of it.

“I get excited about AR. I get excited about AR. Because I see it as a technology that can enhance life in a broad way and so we’ve been working on AR first with our phones and iPads, and later we’ll see where that goes in terms of products, but the key thing is that it can enrich people’s lives.

“And I’m exceedingly optimistic about the intersection of health and technology. You know when we started shipping the watch… we put a heart rate sensor on it and we quickly [were getting] tonnes of emails about people that found out they had heart problems that they didn’t know about.

“And so we started adding more function to the watch [like ECG]. And I began to get even more notes from people that found out that they had a problem because of this ability to continually monitor themselves. And so I think the idea of continually monitoring the body, much like happens in your car with warning lights and so forth, I think this is a big idea that has a long, a long roadmap ahead of it. And so all of those things make me incredibly optimistic.”

When asked about sideloading of apps and why it wouldn’t work on iOS, Cook said “I would say [sideloading] does damage privacy and security. I mean you look at malware as an example, and Android has 47 times more malware than iOS now. Why is that, well it’s because we’ve designed iOS in such a way that there’s one app store.

“And all of the apps are reviewed prior to going on the store. And so that keeps a lot of this malware stuff out of our ecosystem. And customers have told us continuously, how much they value that. And so we’re going to be standing up for the user in the discussions and we’ll see where it goes. I’m optimistic that I think most people know that security is a major risk. And I think a lot of people increasingly agree that privacy is one of the most important issues of the century.”

When asked about reconciling its environmental goals with constantly shipping new products, Cook confirmed once again that Apple is carbon neutral as a company and will be carbon neutral throughout its supply chain by 2030. “And so we like to think that we can be the ripple in the pond to create greater good. And the other thing that we’re really focused on, is we’ve set an objective, not to have to remove anything from the earth to make new iPhones.

“Now we’re not there yet. But if you look at our latest products, 40% of the aluminium in the Mac area is recycled and 98% of the rare earth minerals are recycled on the iPhone 12. And so we’re making enormous progress and of course we are using robotics to disassemble older iPhones to be the heart of newer iPhones. And so the trick is to have a closed-loop between the selling of new product, and the retirement and second-hand markets, and I feel like we’ve done a great job of that.”

Writing by Dan Grabham.

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