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Tim Cook Says Apple Products ‘Change the World’ and ‘Aren’t for the Rich’

Tim Cook Says Apple Products 'Change the World' and 'Aren't for the Rich' Credit: Spencer Lowell / Fortune
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Apple has been ranked third on Fortune Magazine’s yearly list of companies that change the world. When executive editor Adam Lashinsky asked CEO Tim Cook to explain how Apple changes the world, he responded with two simple words: “our products.”

Specifically, the Apple executive explained that the primary way that the company changes the world is its various devices, which allow people do simply accomplish more. “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.”

Cook then zeroed in on Apple’s Swift Playgrounds platform as a vehicle for users to learn how to code, which enables them to learn, create and even teach. “… everybody can learn it. Yet, it’s powerful enough to write the most complex apps that you’d ever want to dream up,” he told Fortune. Many of those coding students go on to become developers, and Cook doubled-down on the fact that the app economy — and the App Store — has created and continues to support millions of jobs that otherwise wouldn’t have existed.

But while its products may be its primary instrument of change, Cook also said that Apple tries to change the world by the way the company is run — namely through advocacy. Apple has championed a number of causes in recent history, and Cook reiterated that the company believes strongly in advocating for the environment, human rights, education and user privacy.

“So we try to do all of those things in the way that we conduct ourselves and run the company. But the primary way we will always change the world is through our products,” Cook added. “Because we touch so many more people in that manner.”

As far as the ways that Apple’s products touch people, Cook said that health-related products, features and services will become a “big area for Apple’s future.” While the CEO declined to offer any significant details, he said that there’s “a lot of stuff” in the health sphere that Apple is working on.

At one point during the interview, Lashinsky stated that Apple’s business strategy seems to be focused on making “premium-priced, high-margin, high-end” products, a fact that he believed conflicted with Apple’s supposed inclusionary stance. Cook disagreed. “Well, it’s not high margin. I wouldn’t use that word. There’s a lot of companies that have much higher margins,” Cook countered. “We price for the value of our products. And we try to make the very best products.”

Cook went on to state that Apple doesn’t make “commodity kind of products” — but stopped short of disparaging companies that do. “It’s a fine business model. But it’s not the business that we’re in.” Instead, Cook said that Apple’s products are “not for the rich” — offering lower-priced devices such as the new, entry-level iPad and iPhones purchased through carriers as examples.

“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,” Cook said.

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