Tim Cook, Steve Jobs' Biggest Dispute Was Over the iPhone

Tim Cook, Steve Jobs’ Biggest Dispute Was Over the iPhone

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook said Wednesday that his biggest debate with Steve Jobs was over iPhone sales.
  • The two discussed for years how to sell it: via a subsidy model or a revenue-share strategy, which Jobs wanted.
  • Apple went Jobs’ route before switching to Cook’s idea, which helped catapult the iPhone to success.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said his biggest debate with Steve Jobs was over how the iPhone would be sold.

Cook appeared at the annual Code conference Wednesday alongside design legend Jony Ive, Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs, and journalist Kara Swisher to discuss the late Apple visionary.

Swisher asked Cook what his biggest debate was with Jobs, and Cook said it was the company’s iPhone sales strategy ahead of its 2007 debut.

Cook said he wanted to go the subsidy route, which meant phone carriers like AT&T would pay Apple a portion of the iPhone cost upfront. They’d then recover that cost via the customer’s monthly subscription fees.

Jobs, on the other hand, wanted to receive part of the phone carrier’s monthly revenue, which wasn’t an industry standard at the time.

“His way was more creative and more different,” Cook said at Code. “My way would have scaled faster, at least I felt strongly. So we were in quite a discussion about this for a while,” adding that it was a multi-year discussion.

The iPhone defined Apple as a major disruptor of the phone industry and cemented the product as a primary driver for the company’s success.

Apple initially went with Jobs’ revenue-share idea, but as Axios notes, the company eventually adopted Cook’s model, which was key in catapulting the iPhone to stardom.

Cook and the other panelists covered a range of topics during Wednesday’s interview, including how Apple faces criticism over its handling of Android messages and what Jobs would think of the current polarized political climate.

On a light note, Powell Jobs also shared that her late husband’s keen attention to detail meant that it took them eight years just to settle on a sofa for their home.

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