By Dan Moren
May 28, 2021 1:50 PM PT
The Back Page: My witness, your honor
It could have been so much worse.
It’s not often that you see the CEO of the world’s biggest company on the witness stand of a trial brought by the maker of a game that features a naked banana. I mean, this kind of thing happens once every couple years. Tops.
While Tim Cook wasn’t the only Apple executive to go under oath, the general consensus seems to be that he made out worse than Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi. In particular, it seems hard to swallow that Cook, a detail-oriented leader if ever there were one, couldn’t summon to mind the value of a search engine deal with Google or how profitable the company’s own App Store is.1 Frankly, it strains credulity.
But it could have been so much worse.
How, you wonder? Well, Epic’s main thrust in the recently concluded trial seems to have been making Apple look, for lack of a better word, crappy. And it might have succeeded on that account, but really, it feels like, if anything, Epic held back. It could have gone further. It could have brought out the big guns.
If all Epic wanted was to make Apple look bad, there were so many other tacks it could have taken, but really, it comes down to just one thing: all they really had to do was to let a single Apple customer cross-examine Tim Cook.
Done. And yes, that’s a bullet I would have taken. Gladly. Just give me 30 minutes with Tim Cook, and I’ll have him looking so full of it that he’ll need a trip to the dry cleaners.
As evidence, I present below just the barest sample of questions that I would have asked Tim Cook to respond to under oath:
- “Mr. Cook, why do you offer a base 5GB of storage on iCloud when the smallest device you sell is 32GB?”
- “Is it or is it not true that you are wearing Apple AR glasses right now?”
- “How come my Pages file gets stuck downloading in iCloud when it’s only 120kb?”
- “How often do you really use Siri? I’m sorry, I’m having a little trouble understanding right now. Yes, I know that’s not a question.”
- “Will the Apple Car come in two- and four-door versions?”
- “Do you think Eddy Cue is a good dancer?”
- “The higher capacity Apple TV is really just for suckers, isn’t it? I’ll remind you you’re under oath, Mr. Cook!”
Unfortunately, at the end of the day, “being a crappy company to do business with” isn’t necessarily against the law. But getting to ask every single thing that’s on my mind, well, it’d be therapeutic if nothing else.
That said, the more I think about this idea, the more I love it. Frankly, Tim Cook and other Apple executives should have to answer to their customers, under oath, once a year or so.
Heaven knows we’re not going to get straight answers out of them any other way.
- Unless, of course, Apple conveniently wiped his memory like a Mac brought in for servicing. But that’s another story for another time. ↩
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]