What points to Cook? Even as notoriously publicity shy as Cook is, the one detail that comes out in practically every profile written about the CEO is his passion for physical fitness. The BBC described him as a "a fitness fanatic and outdoor enthusiast" while Fortune's Adam Lashinsky called him "a fitness nut" and described his only interests outside of Apple as "cycling, the outdoors, and Auburn football."
Cook may not have the same level of hands-on role as the late Steve Jobs when it comes to products, but as the company's head honcho, it's not as though Apple's shipping products without him giving them a look-see. And given Cook's apparent passion for fitness and fitness technology — a board member at Nike since 2005, he talked about his Nike FuelBand while on stage at the D10 conference in 2012 — this may be an opportunity for his enthusiasm to drive the development of Apple's next product.
Jobs himself was arguably at his best when Apple's products overlapped with his passions. For example, his insistence on superior typography on the original Mac drew from his experiences with calligraphy; and the experience of the original iPod was driven by his status as a die-hard music fan. Products that he was less enthused about often fell by the wayside; the Motorola ROKR earned nothing but derision from Jobs, and even the original Apple TV seemed to suffer from his lack of interest. (In a 2004 interview with Macworld, Jobs notably described television as a way "to turn your brain off.")
A lot has been made about Apple after Jobs — most of it sound and fury, signifying nothin —-and while the success of a mythical Apple wearable shouldn't be seen as a referendum on Cook's leadership, it will help define not just what a post-Jobs Apple looks like, but what Tim Cook's Apple looks like. Rather than just defining Cook by the ways in which he isn't Jobs, it's time for us to start looking at who he is, free from the shadow of his illustrious predecessor.
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