What Milanesi found interesting was that Cook didn't deviate from the message mantra when other CEOs might have gone on the offensive. "If it was anyone else, I think it would have been quite different," Milanesi said. "Other CEOs would be scrambling to make a point, or going overboard in justifying their decisions. Apple doesn't do that. Tim [Cook] doesn't do that. He's a much more practical leader than even Jobs."
As is Apple's policy, Cook declined to answer any of the questions posed about potential products, whether something more ambitious than the current Apple TV or an iWatch or even what iOS 7 will look like. On Apple and television, for example, Cook would only repeat his previous lines of, "It continues to be an area of interest to us," and "[Current TV] is not an experience that I think most people love."
"They've been consistent on their messages on TV, for instance," observed Milanesi. "And we're still waiting on what they have in mind."
"It's not a mystery," said Gottheil, of Apple's message, which he thought Cook plainly stated. "'You can see who we are by the products we make,' Cook said. The mysteries are what specific products Apple is working on." But no Apple CEO, whether Jobs or Cook, or some future top exec, would turn that on its head and talk about what may be in the pipeline.
"In fact, he said more than I would have said," Gottheil added. "Cook said 'game changers.' I would have just said, 'We're working on new things.'"
And so it went, on topics like wearable computing -- where Cook went only so far as to say he thought smart glasses, like Google's, were "risky," and that the wrist is a "natural" for something digital; Android's overwhelming sales market share; whether Apple is for old people; and the house-cleaning Cook did last fall when he reorganized upper management.
Some of the questions asked during Cook's interview will be answered in less than two weeks, when Apple holds its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The annual confab runs June 10-14, with a keynote expected on opening day, where Cook and other executives will likely introduce some of the changes to iOS and OS X.
But if Cook's objective was to keep to the script and divulge nothing concrete, why bother?
Milanesi had a quick answer. "Imagine the headlines if he didn't show up [at AllThingsD]," she said. "If he hadn't, then everyone would have said Apple is really dead."
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.