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“Investors are so finicky that they lose track of the big picture,” says Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray who covers Apple.

“I think the wisdom and legacy of Tim Cook is going to be determined by what happens in the next five years.” In the conversation below, Cook looks back as well as ahead at those next five years — hinting at augmented reality but refusing to comment about a car project, saying Apple believes people love a surprise. Your first day in this job, you sent a memo to employees that said, “I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change.” Five years later, it has to have changed. The obvious things are we have more employees in the company.

Apple remains the most valuable and most profitable company in the S&P 500 index.

Yet as the company deals with declining sales in its major device categories and in markets like China, critics and some investors have fretted about Apple’s innovation mojo under Cook.

Those are important, but I don’t think they’re all that’s important. If you care about long-term shareholder return, all of these other things are really critical. Over time, I’m convinced every person in the world will have a smartphone. And so, obviously, I get a lot of advice internal to Apple. ” People who were really key on this decision are folks like [SVP of software engineering] Craig Federighi. Customers should have an expectation that they shouldn’t need a Ph D in computer science to protect themselves. Undoubtedly, your childhood and your upbringing is a constant across your life in terms of the things you learn and your point of view. Sort of on the level, if you will, with freedom of speech, freedom of the press. You spoke about artificial intelligence and augmented reality. Blind spots move, and you want to not just have really bright people around you, but people who will push on you and people to bring out the best in you. And then also the people who plug the parts that you’re not and may never be. I have two books going right now: One is the Bobby Kennedy book [“Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon,” by Larry Tye] that just came out. I tend to like nonfiction and particularly reading about people and how they lived and how they fought, and what motivated them and their philosophy and so forth.

There’s an incredible responsibility to the employees of the company, to the communities and the countries that the company operates in, to people who assemble its products, to developers, to the whole ecosystem of the company. You’ve got the billionth i Phone on the table here. The global sales of PCs each year are about 275 million right now. That may take a while, and they won’t all have i Phones. But I think it’s important on these things that are also new to the company to solicit some people outside, even if you conclude to not do what they say. This at its heart is a deep, deep technical question. So I think they depend on us to do some things on their behalf. You’ve talked about privacy being part of Apple’s values. The other thing is how all this data sits out there in different places. I think I’m a bit better today about compartmentalizing things and not taking everything so personally.” —Tim Cook Everyone’s always wanting to know what’s next. How do you make sure great ideas surface in such a big organization? We’re a believer in small teams versus monolithic huge teams. When Steve handed you the reins, he said Apple had never had an orderly transition of CEO, and he wanted that to happen.

Though he has favorite phrases — many things are “deep,” and Apple’s mission is always its “North Star” — he eschews the jargon many CEOs use.

And while he’s quick to trumpet Apple, he is also unassuming, quickly noting, after saying his job can be “lonely,” that “I’m not looking for any sympathy.“It feels like it was yesterday in some respects.” It is fitting that these two milestones arrive so close together.That’s because the i Phone, launched by Jobs, has been the biggest driver of Apple’s massive growth during Cook’s tenure.What qualities of Apple are immutable, in your view? The company is four times larger [by revenue since 2010]. That was a really key decision, and I think a good one. We have talked about things and been more transparent about what we’re doing — not on products: We try to be as secretive as we’ve always been on products, although it’s increasingly difficult to do that.The DNA of the company is really what I was talking about there. We’ve gone into the Apple Watch business, which has gotten us into wellness and in health. The real test is: Are you creating a ripple that helps other people as well? We’ve had environmental work going on at Apple for decades, but we didn’t talk about it, and we didn’t set aspirational kind of objectives.A lot of consumer company CEOs — they’re not really interacting with consumers.

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