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Tim Cook discusses Steve Jobs, environmental efforts and privacy at Dreamforce 2019

Apple's CEO sits down for a fireside chat with Marc Benioff at Salesforce's Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook (left) chats with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff

James Martin/CNET

People want to understand what makes Apple tick. Which is part of why whenever CEO Tim Cook talks, we all tend to listen. During a fireside chat at the annual Dreamforce conference for business software company Salesforce in San Francisco, Cook talked about why Apple's been pushing on environmental issues, "Dreamers" and more.

"People told us there was no way we could ever run Apple on 100% renewable energy," he said in the chat Tuesday with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. Now that it has, Apple says it's set a goal to make recycling so efficient, it wouldn't need to mine any minerals from the Earth to manufacture its products. Earlier this year, it said devices like its iPhone and its batteries were made using recycled parts.

He tied these efforts to Apple's value to "leave the world better than we found it."

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Of course, all that has the impact of being good for business too. Apple, which has made most of its money from the iPhone for the past decade, has sought to make its products even more attractive by touting issues like promised privacy protections and environmental efforts. 

But that's not all. Apple has also been pushing into new services like a TV streaming offering called Apple TV Plus and a game subscription service called Arcade. It also has expanded into new hardware, such as its popular AirPods headphones, its Apple Watch and its HomePod smart speaker. 

Those are mostly consumer products, but Cook said his company's products have become more popular with businesses too. 

Apple's products are used by all the Fortune 500 companies, for example, and Benioff said he solely relies on his iPhone to do work. "I don't even own a computer anymore, I don't need one," he said. "The phone has really become an extension of my office wherever I am."

That's not by accident. Apple has been aggressively courting business users over the past few years, and not just the creatives who've long favored Macs. Apple paired with IBM in mid-2014 to push Apple's products with business users and optimize IBM's cloud computing services, such as device management, security and analytics, for Apple's iOS mobile software. It also struck a deal with Cisco to create a "fast lane" for devices running on iOS, namely iPhones and iPads, that would allow them to zip through Cisco's business environment. And in 2016, it partnered with SAP to make it easier for developers to build iOS apps for business needs. 

Last year at Dreamforce, Apple and Salesforce said they'd formed a partnership to make Salesforce's products run even better on Apple devices. The San Francisco company makes cloud-based software for sales reps and other workers to manage their customers. At this year's Dreamforce, Apple and Salesforce said two new tools are now available to do things like add Siri shortcuts in the Salesforce Mobile app. 

While Cook and Benioff did touch on those efforts in a small way, the pair spent most of their half-hour talk discussing Apple's values. 

Cook noted that Apple has advocated for "Dreamers," or people who were brought to the US illegally as children and are now grown adults living in the US. He said Apple counts about 450 Dreamers within its ranks, and he believes that after talking with them, they deserve to be made citizens.

He also discussed Steve Jobs, who used the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, nestled in downtown San Francisco and where this fireside chat took place, to announce some Apple products, including the original iPad in 2010. "This was a theater that lots of the Apple products were announced," Cook said. "I can feel him in his presence when, whenever I come here."