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Tim Cook: Steve Jobs told me to 'just do what's right'

In an interview with Businessweek, Cook says that Steve Jobs lifted a burden off him when he finally took over as Apple CEO.

Apple CEO Tim Cook with late co-founder Steve Jobs in 2007.
Apple CEO Tim Cook with late co-founder Steve Jobs in 2007.
James Martin/CNET

Apple CEO Tim Cook said that Steve Jobs provided much-needed advice to him before he officially became chief executive.

Speaking to Bloomberg Businessweek in an interview published today, Cook said that Jobs called him one day and asked to speak with him about his plans for Apple's future. Jobs told him that he would recommend Cook as CEO and that he would serve as chairman. After Cook asked Jobs several times if he was sure about making that transition, Jobs told him to stop asking, and provided his reasoning for the decision.

Here's what Cook said about the conversation:

I asked him about different scenarios to understand how he wanted to be involved as chairman. He said, "I want to make this clear. I saw what happened when Walt Disney passed away. People looked around, and they kept asking what Walt would have done." He goes, "The business was paralyzed, and people just sat around in meetings and talked about what Walt would have done." He goes, "I never want you to ask what I would have done. Just do what's right." He was very clear.

Cook served as interim CEO for Apple on three occasions as Steve Jobs left his post temporarily for medical reasons. In August 2011, shortly before his death, Jobs stepped down as CEO and assumed the role of chairman. Tim Cook was appointed CEO that same day.

Aside from a discussion on Steve Jobs, Cook had an awful lot to say during his interview. He touched on his relationship with Jonathan Ive, why Scott Forstall's recent ouster was necessary, and his plans for Maps. Here's what he had to say:

  • Speaking about the recent executive shakeup at his company, in which senior vice presidents John Browett and Scott Forstall left, Cook said that the change will allow Apple to take collaboration between executives "to another level." He also said that he feels the new setup, which sees senior vice president of industrial design Jonathan Ive taking over the "human interface," makes perfect sense.
  • Speaking of Ive, Cook said that he "loves" his design guru, adding that "he's an incredible guy, and I have a massive amount of respect for him."
  • Moving on to Maps, Apple's new mapping application for iOS that was hit with major issues at launch this year, Cook said that his company "screwed up." However, he noted that Apple has "a huge plan to make it even better."
  • Noting his court battles with Samsung, Cook told Bloomberg that he can't stand litigation, but he believed that he had no other choice but to launch lawsuits.