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Tim Cook: “If you’re looking at a phone more than someone’s eyes, you’re doing the wrong thing”

Tim Cook: “If you’re looking at a phone more than someone’s eyes, you’re doing the wrong thing”
[Photo: Flickr user Austin Community College]

Apple’s CEO attended the Time 100 Summit in New York yesterday where he addressed a number of topics, from tech’s effect on society to political action committees (PACs). In the wide-ranging interview, Cook dropped a number of insights into Apple and how he sees technology’s role in the world.

One of the most interesting insights was Cook explaining that he doesn’t want people to be glued to their iPhones, telling former Time editor in chief Nancy Gibbs, “If you’re looking at a phone more than someone’s eyes, you’re doing the wrong thing.” Cook explained:

“Apple never wanted to maximize user time. We’ve never been about that. We’re not motivated to do that from a business point of view, and we’re certainly not motivated from a values point of view.”

It may sound weird to hear a CEO of a tech company say that he doesn’t want their most popular product to be used more often by people—and some may not even believe his sincerity of the statement. However, last year Apple did introduce a new feature in iOS devices called ScreenTime that is designed to help minimize the amount of time people spend on their iPhones and iPads. And that same feature is rumored to be coming to Macs this year.

Besides talking about limiting time spent on Apple devices, Cook also addressed the following:

  • On regulation of tech companies: “We all have to be intellectually honest, and we have to admit that what we’re doing isn’t working. Technology needs to be regulated. There are now too many examples where the no rails have resulted in a great damage to society.”
  • On money in politics: “We focus on policies, not politics. Apple doesn’t have a PAC . . . I refuse to have one because it shouldn’t exist.”
  • On the company’s new emphasis on health-related technology: “I do think that there will be the day that we will look back and say, ‘Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind was in healthcare.'”
  • On avoiding controversy: “I try not to get wrapped up in a pretzel about who we upset. At the end of the day we’ll be judged more on, ‘Did we stand up for what we believed in?’ not necessarily, ‘Do they agree with it?'”
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