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Cannibalism is good, and other things I learned from 60 Minutes' Apple report

Michael Simon | Dec. 22, 2015
Charlie Rose talked to Tim Cook on 60 Minutes, and the interview was enlightening.

“We have a responsibility and we do it,” Cook said. “We are constantly auditing our supply chain, making sure that safety standards are the highest. We’re making sure that working conditions are the highest. All of the things that you would expect us to look for and more, we’re doing it.”

But as China becomes an increasingly bigger market, these issues will only become more illuminated. It’s not a problem unique to Apple, but as the largest manufacturer in the world, it has an obligation to take the lead, which Cook is doing. But Apple still has a long way to go.

Product cannibalism is good for business

But the most interesting comment of the report came from Phil Schiller. Rose asked a very pointed question about the inherent overlap in Apple’s various product lines, from iPhones to iPads to Macs. I expected to hear a stock answer about how Apple builds products people need and strive to fill all needs, but instead Schiller embraced the scary notion of cannibalism.

“It’s not a danger, it’s almost by design,“ he said. ”You need each of these products to try to fight for their space, their time with you. The iPhone has to become so great that you don’t know why you want an iPad. The iPad has to be so great that you don’t know why you want a notebook. The notebook has to be so great, you don’t know why you want a desktop. Each one’s job is to compete with the other ones.”

I’ve never thought of it that way, but it makes a lot of sense. To make a great product, it obviously has to hold its against all others in its class, but it also has to embrace its compromises and understand its weaknesses. Apple devices are at once complimentary and competitive, and to use one is to want, though not necessarily need, another.

It’s a relentless focus and pursuit of what’s best for the user. And whether we’re talking about China, encryption or its retail stores, Apple isn’t about to give up the good fight.


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