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Tim Cook Explains How Apple is Changing the World in Fortune Interview

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In a recent interview with Fortune, Apple CEO, Tim Cook talks about a variety of different topics, but he seems to focus on one thing – how Apple, as a company, has changed the world.  The big question that I would ask is, has Apple, in fact, changed the world?  And if so, how would you define their impact?  Cook’s interesting response to this question is centred around the products themselves.  Cook states:

“Yes, I think in numerous ways. I think the No. 1 way Apple changes the world is through our products. We make products for people that are tools to enable them to do things that they couldn’t otherwise do—to enable them to create or learn or teach or play. Or do something really wonderful.”

To expand this slightly, Cook suggests that Apple has been working on certain products that help people in ways, like health care.  The company partnered with PRODUCT (RED) to bring in upwards of $130 million.  Apple has been trying to help people learn how to code starting in kindergarten and all the way up through community college.  And lastly, he mentions their work to focus on renewable energy, which is how they power HQ as well as their store fronts.  Which does sound like they are changing the world, but I wonder how much of an impact this is having?

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An interesting thing that came up during the interview was around how available Apple’s products are to everyone.  To clarify, that maybe the products aren’t really made for everyone to use.  But Apple seems to believe they are.  Forrune suggested that Apple’s strategy has been “to make premium-priced, high-margin, high-end products”.  To which, Cook disagreed with.

Before I share the quote with you, I kind of think I’m on the same side as Fortune with this one.  We’ve talked about it here.  It’s difficult for some people to afford an iPhone.  Or, let’s qualify it even further, the newest iPhone.  Or even an iPad for that matter.  Which you likely have for a longer period of time, and over the long run would be cheaper.  So, if people can’t afford to use their products, then they are going to buy something else.  Which kind of means, they’re not available for “everyone”.   Cook explains:

“Well it’s not high margin. I wouldn’t use that word. There’s a lot of companies that have much higher margins. We price for the value of our products. And we try to make the very best products. And that means we don’t make commodity kind of products. And we don’t disparage people that do; it’s a fine business model. But it’s not the business that we’re in.

But if you look across our product lines, you can buy an iPad today for under $300. You can buy an iPhone, depending upon which one you select, for in that same kind of ballpark. And so these are not for the rich. We obviously wouldn’t have over a billion products that are in our active installed base if we were making them for the rich because that’s a sizable number no matter who’s looking at the numbers.”

Yes, you can buy an iPad for under $300.  But just under $300.  But you can buy a Samsung table for even less than that.  And I’m not saying that I don’t think Apple’s products are great, but I’m also not convinced that they’re for “everyone”, like Cook states.  If you haven’t had a chance to read the full interview, head over to Fortune now and have a look.

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