In Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level, a pundit at one point tries to make the case to author Leander Kahney that Apple’s current chief executive is the best one the company has ever had. Better even than Cook’s legendary predecessor, the product visionary responsible for many of the company’s hit devices.
An eyebrow-raising claim? Sure, but the gist of that argument seems to be kind of the whole point of the book — which appears to be the first biography of Cook and which was written by the editor and publisher of the Cult of Mac news website. It will be published on April 16, so a few weeks after Cook presided over one of the most important media events of his tenure, one that heralds a high-stakes shift of Apple’s emphasis to content and services as opposed to the outsized importance ascribed to its devices.
One of the themes of the book appears to be that not only is Cook “his own man,” in Leander’s words, but that — well, good for him for being so. That he’s barely made any missteps since taking over for Steve Jobs in one of the most closely watched handovers of all time in corporate America, and that the company is empirically all the better for it.
In terms of what readers are in store for, Apple apparently participated and made several top executives available for the book. As a result, Leander is promising potentially fascinating anecdotes such as an inside look at how Cook handled facing off against the FBI over whether Apple would give in to the bureau’s request to unlock the phone of the San Bernardino shooter.
Which leads to Cook-as-privacy-champion, another theme that will be explored, along with him inspiring Apple to become a greener and more charitable company. The book hits all the important biography milestones, revisiting his childhood in rural Alabama and tracing his encounters with racism and discrimination in the South on through his maturation as an IBM executive and eventually an Apple recruit who became a quiet, influential force that Steve Jobs ultimately groomed for the CEO job.
Today, the book notes, Apple is worth three times as much as it was when Steve died, it keeps making piles of money and is stretching into new businesses it hasn’t tried before, such as becoming a kind of entertainment production studio. Will the shift Apple teased on Monday, into new areas like commissioning TV shows and movies from top Hollywood talent, end up being a hit or miss? This new biography would argue to definitely be wary of underestimating the quiet chief executive overseeing it all.