Apples Tim Cook assures employees that it is committed to the Mac and that great desktops are coming

One of the memes to come out of the somewhat contentious rollout of the MacBook Pro is that Apple has given up on the desktop Mac. Given the slower upgrade cycle of desktops and how well my Retina 5K iMac is holding up, it took me a while to pay attention to what was going on there until it had reached a fever pitch.

The consensus was that Apple is no longer interested in keeping up its desktop business because the portable market was eating it alive.

In a posting to an employee message board, CEO Tim Cook seems intent on putting that particular branch of discussion to bed.

Some folks in the media have raised the question about whether were committed to desktops, Cook wrote. If theres any doubt about that with our teams, let me be very clear: we have great desktops inour roadmap. Nobody should worry about that.

Cook cites the far better performance of desktop computers, including screen sizes, memory, storage and more variety in I/O (ha) as a reason that they are really important, and in some cases critical, to people.

So no matter how you feel about the state of the Mac at the moment, you have new machines to look forward to. No mention of whether that meant iMac or Mac Pro or both, but at the very least its encouraging to those of us who couldnt live without a desktop computer.

Also posted to the message board was a section on what Cook thinks is Apples greatest differentiating factor, which I found particularly interesting. Though the Mac statements may be the news hook here, hence the headline, there are some interesting things in this section to pull apart, as well.

Hes responding to the following question: What do you consider to be Apples biggest differentiator, and what can employees do to foster and advance those efforts?

He first says that the people and culture are the foundation, which in itself is really not that revelatory; every tech CEO says that.

Our greatest differentiator is our culture and our people. They are the foundation by which everything else comes about. Without great people and a great environment that people can live in, we wouldnt have intellectual property. Wewouldnt have the best products. We wouldnt have the inventions or features I mentioned earlier, Cook responds.

I think its that change the world attitude and boldness thats deeply embedded in our culture, that good isnt good enough. All of this is the fuel for everything else that we do.

This kind of thinking in its culture is often cited by Apple executives and ex-employees as a truism. Apple pushes. That doesnt always (ever) result in perfection but it does result in truly impressive results from time to time,like the recent AirPods, which are an incredible weaving together of Apples hardware and software teams to produce something that works so much better than what came before its laughable.

Cook also re-emphasizes this commonly stated stance in the posting. From a strategic point of view, we also focus on things where software, hardware and services all come together and bring out the magic that only Apple can, he says. Thats our secret sauce. It shows up in a lot of different places, and itssomething that we look for in new employees.

But what comes after is probably the most interesting. He says this:

You can rarely see precisely where you want to go from the beginning. In retrospect, its always written like that. But its rarely like that. The fantastic thing about Apple employees is they get excited about something, and they want to knowhow it works. What it will do. What its capabilities are. If they want to know about something in an entirely different industry, they start pulling the string and see where it takes them. Theyre focused more on the journey, which enables somany great things to happen.

Just in the past couple years, pulling that string on Watch and fitness led to ResearchKit, and ResearchKit led to CareKit. Weve got a ton of things on our roadmap that I cant talk about, but that Im incredibly excited about, that are theresult of pulling that string and not being bound by the box that so many people in life get bound by.

No company on the planet is willing to go as far as Apple to find out whether there is a there, there. The Apple Watch launched with so many features because Apple was willing to let it define its own role as determined by customers. It was probably the worlds most expensive focus group. And it managed to do that while still providing a genuinely useful tool right out of the gate.

His conclusion drives that point home.

With so many things that weve done, we dont do it because theres a return on investment. We dont do it because we know exactly how were going to use it. We do it because its clear its interesting and it might lead somewhere. A lotof the time it doesnt, but many times it leads us somewhere where we had no idea in the beginning.

I think this is an often overlooked cultural strength at Apple. A willingness to devote extra-ordinary resources, time and attention to a problem or piece of technical research because there is a feeling that it may lead somewhere eventually. All too often technology companies are obsessed with the goal. The end result. And everything is bent into service of achieving that goal.

This methodology is not ineffective, but it is short-sighted. You may be able to get the result that you wanted by driving hard toward that goal, but youre never going to recognize the better, potentially more rewarding result you didnt expect. Youll never see it because any branch that leads you to such a potentiality would have gotten killed off as a distraction or failure before it had time to bear fruit.

Anyway, this isnt a philosophical screed, its internal PR, but it rings true with the companys public actions and what I know of its internal culture. Interesting stuff.

In the same Apple Web posting, Cook also talked about why he chose to go to the meting with President-elect Trump last week, and you can read about that here.

The full postings are below:

We had a big MacBook Pro launch in October and a powerful upgrade to the MacBook back in the spring. Are Mac desktops strategic for us?

The desktop is very strategic for us. Its unique compared to the notebook because you can pack a lot more performance in a desktop the largest screens, the most memory and storage, agreater variety of I/O, and fastest performance. So there are many different reasons why desktops are really important, and in some cases critical, to people.

The current generation iMac is the best desktop we have ever made and its beautiful Retina 5K display is the best desktop display in the world.

Some folks in the media have raised the question about whether were committed to desktops. If theres any doubt about that with our teams, let me be very clear: we have great desktops inour roadmap. Nobody should worry about that.

What do you consider to be Apples biggest differentiator, and what can employees do to foster and advance those efforts?

Our greatest differentiator is our culture and our people. They are the foundation by which everything else comes about. Without great people and a great environment that people can live in, we wouldnt have intellectual property. Wewouldnt have the best products. We wouldnt have the inventions or features I mentioned earlier.

I think its that change the world attitude and boldness thats deeply embedded in our culture, that good isnt good enough. All of this is the fuel for everything else that we do.

From a strategic point of view, we also focus on things where software, hardware and services all come together and bring out the magic that only Apple can. Thats our secret sauce. It shows up in a lot of different places, and itssomething that we look for in new employees.

You can rarely see precisely where you want to go from the beginning. In retrospect, its always written like that. But its rarely like that. The fantastic thing about Apple employees is they get excited about something, and they want to knowhow it works. What it will do. What its capabilities are. If they want to know about something in an entirely different industry, they start pulling the string and see where it takes them. Theyre focused more on the journey, which enables somany great things to happen.

Just in the past couple years, pulling that string on Watch and fitness led to ResearchKit, and ResearchKit led to CareKit. Weve got a ton of things on our roadmap that I cant talk about, but that Im incredibly excited about, that are theresult of pulling that string and not being bound by the box that so many people in life get bound by.

With so many things that weve done, we dont do it because theres an return on investment. We dont do it because we know exactly how were going to use it. We do it because its clear its interesting and it might lead somewhere. A lotof the time it doesnt, but many times it leads us somewhere where we had no idea in the beginning.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/19/apples-tim-cook-assures-employees-that-it-is-committed-to-the-mac-and-that-great-desktops-are-coming/