Tim Cook reflects on the role of running a post-Steve Jobs Apple as Fortune names him “greatest leader”

Fortune has today named Tim Cook #1 on its list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, publishing an extensive profile of the Apple CEO in which he reflects on the lessons he’s learned in the time he’s been running the company.

Taking over from Steve was not, he said, an easy transition, and he gained a new appreciation for the way that the co-founder had shielded him and the rest of the team from public criticism.

What I learned after Steve passed away, what I had known only at a theoretical level, an academic level maybe, was that he was an incredible heat shield for us, his executive team. None of us probably appreciated that enough […] but he really took any kind of spears that were thrown. He took the praise as well. But to be honest, the intensity was more than I would ever have expected.

Claims that Apple had lost its ability to innovate under Cook’s leadership were, he said, something he had to learn to block out …  Read more

“He could be a jerk, but never an a-hole” sums up Becoming Steve Jobs, says inner circle journalist

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The conflicting biographies of Steve Jobs, one authorized by its subject prior to his death, the other endorsed by Apple, paint quite different pictures of the man. Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs focuses more on his flaws, while Becoming Steve Jobs describes a softer, more rounded person.

A tech journalist who knew Steve well, Steven Levy, has weighed in with his own take in an interesting blog post, The War Over Who Steve Jobs Was. He said that one quote from Becoming Steve Jobs summed-up the view presented by Schlender and Tetzeli.

He could be a jerk, but never an asshole.

Levy says that many of those close to Steve shared the view expressed by Tim Cook on Isaacson’s biography, published soon after Steve’s death, that it did a “tremendous disservice” to him. Jony Ive said that his own regard for the book “couldn’t be any lower” …  Read more

Apple says it participated in ‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ book from a sense of responsibility to Steve

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In the first official statement about Apple’s decision to allow Tim Cook and other senior executives to be interviewed for Becoming Steve Jobs, company spokesman Steve Dowling said it was from a sense of responsibility to Steve’s memory.

After a long period of reflection following Steve’s death, we felt a sense of responsibility to say more about the Steve we knew. We decided to participate in Brent and Rick’s book because of Brent’s long relationship with Steve, which gave him a unique perspective on Steve’s life. The book captures Steve better than anything else we’ve seen, and we are happy we decided to participate.

Apple had initially refused interview requests by authors Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, the company taking 18 months to change its mind, reports the NY Times …  Read more

From ‘Becoming Steve Jobs': Cook says Isaacson book was a tremendous disservice, succession planning began in 2004, more

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Fast Company has today published a sizeable excerpt from Becoming Steve Jobs ($12 Amazon, $13 iBook), the upcoming book about the Apple cofounder’s’ life and his mannerisms. Unlike previous efforts, Apple is openly promoting this book and many executives, CEO Tim Cook included, have participated in interviews. This has yielded some very in-depth, intimate and interesting stories.

Following the story of Cook offering to give Jobs his liver, Cook is quoted as saying the Isaacson book did the late CEO a ‘disservice’. In very similar words to how Cue described the (unrelated) film about Jobs at SXSW, Cook says ‘The person I read about there is somebody I would never have wanted to work with over all this time’.

“The Steve that I met in early ’98 was brash and confident and passionate and all of those things. But there was a soft side of him as well, and that soft side became a larger portion of him over the next 13 years. You’d see that show up in different ways. There were different employees and spouses here that had health issues, and he would go out of his way to turn heaven and earth to make sure they had proper medical attention. He did that in a major way, not in a minor, ‘Call me and get back to me if you need my help’ kind of way.

Cook also recalls how Jobs would call up his mother on the pretense of finding Cook, but in reality just wanted to talk to his parents about convincing Cook to have more of a social life. ‘Someone who’s viewing life only as a transactional relationship with people…doesn’t do that’.

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Eddy Cue debuts Apple Pay at Oracle Arena in Oakland, details watch-based payments

Apple Pay Apple Watch

Eddy Cue took some time today to show off Apple Pay at Oracle Arena in Oakland and oversee the rollout of the payment system at the stadium. Cue showed up to the event wearing a stainless steel model of the Apple Watch and provided some more details on how Apple Pay will work with it.

The executive explained that transactions made using the wearable device won’t require Touch ID or PIN code authorization, as long as the watch is unlocked and near its paired iPhone. The phone unlocks the watch, so there’s no need to confirm your identity again. To trigger the Apple Pay transaction, you just needs to double tap the button on the side of the device.

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Apple plans relaunched Beats streaming music service for WWDC, skipping March event; Apple TV still coming

iPhone 6 Beats Music

Apple won’t take the wraps off of its upcoming Beats-based music streaming service at its March 9 “Spring Forward” event, according to music industry sources briefed on the launch timeline. Instead, Apple currently plans to introduce the service, at least in beta form, at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in early June. The WWDC keynote likely takes place on Monday, June 8th, and that’s the event where the debut will occur. The new iTunes music streaming service is based on technology acquired from Beats Music, including curated playlists, cloud-based libraries, and offerings customized to the musical tastes of individual users. The service will be priced as high as $7.99 per month, which is less expensive than current $9.99 pricing for Beats Music, Spotify, and Rdio…

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The Next Episode: Apple’s plans for Beats-based music service revealed

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Six months after buying the subscription music service Beats Music, Apple is actively working to launch a completely new paid streaming music service that will compete with Spotify and Rdio. Yet to be named, the new service is entirely Apple-designed, yet leverages Beats’ technologies and music content, a collaboration that has thus far led to personnel challenges and delays. Multiple sources within Apple and the music industry have provided the first in-depth details of Apple’s upcoming streaming service, which we share below.

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Beats Music’s Ian Rogers auctioning lunch in LA or Cupertino for charity

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Update 2/5: Auction just wrapped up at $3,250 just over the estimated value.

Former Beats Music CEO and current Apple employee Ian Rogers is participating in a charity fundraiser through the online auction site Charitybuzz. With the estimated value pegged at $3,000, the fundraiser has a starting bid of $600, and runs for two weeks starting today. The highest bidder will have the opportunity to meet the former Beats Music CEO in either Los Angeles (where Beats is headquartered) or Cupertino (near Apple’s campus) for a private lunch meeting. Read more

Touching the dial: How iTunes Radio could be tuned for a better user experience

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iTunes Radio, Apple’s first real foray into streaming music, made its public debut back in June 2013, where it was announced alongside iOS 7. Over a year since its release, the service hasn’t exactly taken over the world, quite literally. It’s still only available in the United States and Australia. If you compared iTunes Radio today with iTunes Radio as it existed the day it was first available to use, you’ll notice that not much has really changed.

Of course, just last May, Apple announced its acquisition of Beats Electronics, which brought along with it Beats Music, a robust and almost entirely different approach to streaming music. While Apple may seek to integrate Beats Music more tightly with iTunes in the future, at this time it hasn’t.

So in the meantime, what could Apple do to make iTunes Radio more appealing to customers? Some might say the music selection is limited, or that streaming doesn’t always work correctly. However, focusing on the service strictly from a feature standpoint, there are many small changes and additions Apple could implement that would have a huge impact on the usefulness and utility of iTunes Radio. Let’s take a look.

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Apple announces new App Store records, says New Year’s Day biggest sales day in history

app store hero flat modernApple shared new numbers for the App Store today announcing that last week set a new record for App Store billings. According to the company, customers have spent almost $500 million dollars through app and in-app purchases over the App Store through the first week in January.. In addition to the company’s App Store record announcement, Apple has presented a new microsite focused on its job creation efforts.

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Apple’s appeal of last year’s ebook ruling begins today

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Apple is having a busy time in court at the moment. Not only is it defending the iPod DRM class action, but is this morning beginning its appeal of the verdict of last year’s ebook trial.

The court ruled that Apple was guilty of anti-competitive practices in two ways. First, the company asked publishers to switch from wholesale pricing – where publishers sold in bulk to retailers, who set their own prices – to an agency model, where publishers set retail prices and retailers took a commission. The court ruled that this reduced price competition …  Read more