Apple CEO Seeks To Put Personal Mark On Company
First Published Wednesday, 30th May 2012 03:18 am - © 2012 Dow Jones
By John Letzing
Of Dow Jones NEWSWIRES
RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. -(Dow Jones)- Apple Inc. (AAPL) Chief Executive Tim Cook sought to clarify his image Tuesday as leader of the gadget giant in the wake of his high-profile predecessor Steve Jobs.
Cook, speaking at the D: All Things Digital conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., noted some specific areas where Apple is operating in new ways under his leadership, by expanding its philanthropic efforts and more closely scrutinizing its outsourced manufacturing in China.
But Cook also cited areas where Apple has no plans to change: Staying extremely secretive about new products, and fighting to protect its innovations in court if necessary.
Cook became CEO of Apple in August of last year, when company co-founder Jobs resigned in the midst of a battle with pancreatic cancer. Jobs died a little more than a month later.
Cook wore a black T-shirt beneath a collared shirt and jacket that recalled the signature, black turtleneck often worn in public by Jobs.
At one point Cook appeared on the verge of being overtaken with emotion as he recalled the period leading to Jobs' death as "absolutely the saddest days of my life."
Late last year, Cook said, "somebody kind of shook me and said, it's time to get on."
Now, Cook says he's at ease with making Apple his own.
"I've never really viewed or felt the weight of trying to be Steve, it's not who I am, and it's not my goal in life. I am who I am, and I'm focused on that, and being a great CEO."
Cook said Apple has begun delving more into philanthropy, which wasn't an area closely associated with Jobs.
The CEO said company employees now have a matching gift program, for example, which enables them to give how they choose.
"Steve clearly knew about the matching gift thing, he was alive then, and he was for it," Cook said.
Cook also said the company has now begun "micro-managing" working conditions at its China-based factories. One goal has been to reduce overtime, he said: "We're measuring working hours for 700,000 people, I don't know of anybody else doing that."
Apple will continue the legal battles it began under Jobs to protect its patent rights, Cook said, though he conceded that the related litigation is "overhead that I wish didn't exist."
The Cupertino, Calif. company will also continue seeking to keep its fans in the dark until the day its new products are unveiled. "We're going to double down on secrecy in products," he said.
Cook said he is making his own decisions as a leader in part due to some advice Jobs gave him prior to his death, when he asked that Cook not rely on his legacy.
"He told me to never do that, to never ask what he would do," Cook said. "Just do what was right."
-By John Letzing, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-765-8230; email@example.com