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Tim Cook on the iPhone’s Future, Content and Coming Out

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s coming out had been in the works for a whole year: Cook told the Washington Post in a wide-ranging interview Monday that he had prepared to come out as gay for about a year before finally taking that step in October of 2014. “Just thinking through what to say, how to say it, where to say it, how to do that in a way that advanced what I was trying to do,” he said.

Cook explained that his decision to come out was prompted by many notes from kids that he had gotten ever since he had taken over the leadership of Apple. Cook’s sexuality had been an open secret for some time, making him a kind of unofficial role model, and giving him some insights into what many gay teenagers were going through. “They were kids who were distraught,” he told the Post. “Some had been pushed out by their families. They thought they couldn’t achieve anything.” By coming out, Cook wanted to signal them that one can be gay and successful, and that it helps to be honest about it.

Cook’s interview with the paper comes at a time of increased scrutiny for Apple. The company has seen two mixed quarters, with iPhone sales declining, and revenue in China becoming a sore spot. Slowing iPhone sales have also prompted questions on whether Apple has any “next big thing” in the works at a time when competitors like Facebook, Google and Amazon openly advance their virtual reality and connected home strategies.

Cook didn’t comment on any future projects, but said that the iPhone as a product was far from dead. “This is still an unbelievable product category to be in, and not just for this quarter, year or for years,” he said. “There is nothing that’s going to replace it in the short term or in the intermediate term either.”

But Apple is clearly going through a transition, with services becoming an ever-larger part of its business. In fact, services revenue surpassed the amount of money Apple makes with selling Macs and Macbooks for the first time earlier this year. Some of this revenue includes subscription fees for Apple Music, and Apple’s increased focus on content and services has also led to increased investments into original content.

Cook mentioned some of those investments during his interview with the Post, including original music video programming and the company’s new show “Planet of the Apps,” but also stressed that Apple may be willing to spend more. “We do view that the future of TV is apps,” he said. “And if there’s a way we can be a catalyst into that happening faster or better, then that would interest us in content.”

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