Apple smart watch is coming, NYT profile of Tim Cook suggests

A new profile of Apple(s appl) CEO Tim Cook was published in the New York Times on Sunday, and although the national newspaper of record couldn’t get Cook to speak on the record, it was able to get some interesting details from one of his closest advisors. How much has Apple changed during the Cook era? According to design VP Jony Ive, not a lot: “Honestly, I don’t think anything’s changed” in the three years since Cook took over after former CEO Steve Jobs’ death, he told the paper.

Unnamed sources quoted in the piece said Cook is less hands-on than Jobs was during his tenure, especially when designing new products, like the health-focused smart watch Apple is expected to launch later this year. “Mr. Cook is less involved in the minutiae of product engineering for the watch, and has instead delegated those duties to members of his executive cabinet, including Mr. Ive, according to people involved in the project,” authors Matt Richtel and Brian Chen write. Cook is reportedly interested in the device’s broader implications, such as the ability to improve health or curtail unnecessary doctors’ visits.

Singer and U2 frontman Bono is also quoted, saying that Cook is amassing a staff of creatively-minded executives, including his friend Jimmy Iovine, who is joining Apple’s executive team as part of its $3 billion purchase of Beats Electronics. While it is interesting to consider how Cook is hiring advisors to compensate for his weaknesses, I am confident that Bono does not have any special insight into Apple’s hiring decisions.

Tim Cook is unusually secretive for an American executive, and there’s a lot about him that isn’t touched on in the story: for instance, his sexuality. Cook doesn’t talk about his private life, but it is an open secret that he is likely the most powerful gay executive in the technology industry. The profile does touch on Cook’s approach to social issues, including quoting his speech at the United Nations where he obliquely referenced his experiences with discrimination. Under Cook, Apple is embracing environmental sustainability, charitable contributions and a corporate attitude that addresses and considers the common good.

While it’s not the long-form, uncut interview with Tim Cook that Apple-watchers have been waiting for, the profile is one of the most complete looks at the enigmatic CEO we’ve received so far in his tenure. While it raises concerns that Apple may struggle to keep up with the unprecedented growth it has displayed over the past decade, it’s clear the wheels are not falling off under Cook: Apple still has $150 billion in cash and is the market profit leader in the mobile space.

The whole piece is worth a read over at the New York Times.