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Eddy Cue on Apple’s service innovations and teamwork

Apple SVP of Services Eddy Cue. Photo credit: Re/Code

Last updated 13 hours ago

In a new interview Eddy Cue has spilled the beans on what his daily use hardware is, what Apple execs actually do, and like the most.

Cue was quizzed about what Apple gear he uses in his day-to-day work to accomplish his duties. His current arsenal includes an iPhone 15 Pro Max in white with no cover, the 15-inch MacBook Air for on-the-go, the Mac Studio at home, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

In addition to supervising the teams that manage all these different services, Cue spends a lot of time using the services, including watching the output of Apple TV+. “I consume a lot [of Apple’s] TV and movies. I even get to watch that for work, which is crazy.”

“I never thought that was going to happen — when I was doing my computer science degree — that I’d get to watch movies and TV for work, that’s the best,” Cue said.

What Apple’s executives actually do

In addition to keeping a supervisory eye on Apple TV+’s content, he also noted that one of his favorite duties is “getting to see the new products, and help decide what those new products are.”

Cue said that he felt his ability to hire good people — and learn from them — was a factor in his success.

“What I try to do is is to create an environment where they can excel,” Cue said. “They’re generally the experts at what they’re doing,and then I’m there to help.”

Cue noted that he has many employees under him that do most of the routine work in keeping Apple’s disparate services running smoothly. At the top, however, Apple is “still organized like if we were a small company,” keeping the top level of executives as a small and tight-knit group of colleagues.

“The beauty of Apple is not just in services, but it’s in [the fact that] we work really like one cohesive team, so what’s the hardware team doing what Craig and the OS team are doing and what are we doing with our apps and services and so we get to do that together,” he said.

“There’s not divisions [at Apple], so there’s not an iPhone division or whatever. I was at our executive staff meeting where we have Craig running software, we have John Ternus running hardware, Johnny Srouji running the chips. I know all their priorities, they know my priorities, [and] we know where we need each other.”

“We’re highly dependent on each other in a way, we’re accountable to each other too,” Cue said. “I don’t want to let them down and they don’t want to let me down.”

“If you’re lucky enough to find something you’re passionate about then it’s great because it’s not work most of the time. You don’t want to go through life feeling like it’s ‘oh I get up in the morning, I have to go to work,'” Cue added. “I get up in the morning [and] I was excited about was meeting one of my teams this morning.”

Apple Music and Apple TV+

One area that Cue was specifically asked about was Apple Music and it’s associated services. His answers could also apply to many of the services Apple offers, as compared to the way the company’s top rivals — Google, Spotify, Meta, and Microsoft — handle services.

“At the end of the day everyone pretty much has all the same songs,” Cue admitted. “But that doesn’t mean that you can’t innovate and that you can’t do special things, and that’s the mistake that people think well then there’s really not much to do.”

“If you look over the last few years we’ve innovated in [the] quality of the music. In the history of music, there’s really been two formats — mono and stereo. Now, with our surround sound you put a set of airpods on, you’re moving your head and the music — it’s like you’re sitting on the stage with the band exactly how they were hearing it when they’re singing it.”

Cue added that “as much as we love technology, and we use it tremendously, there’s still an aspect of people that’s critical to us. We do live radio shows with real DJs, and the playlists that we’re creating, some algorithmic, but always with a personal touch to it.”

Over time, Cue became aware that the Classical music experience was pretty bad in Apple Music. He and his teams subsequently developed a new application strictly for Apple Classical, addressing the unique specifics of the format.

“I’m incredibly proud of the team, because we’re always thinking of new ideas that make the service better for our customers and listeners, and I think there’s a lot more to do,” Cue said. “It’s part of the DNA of Apple.”

Cue was asked about the Apple TV+ service in relation to the many other streaming offerings available. “I think people will always subscribe to more than one [streaming service], but we we we felt like there was a place to not be the most but be the best.”

“You have to remember we didn’t know a lot about making TV shows and movies, but we’ve put together what is I think one of the best teams in the world today. In the five-year period starting with zero movies, zero TV shows, [and] no library I’m really proud of the work that they’ve done from ‘Severance’ to winning a Best Picture Oscar for Coda, and obviously ‘Ted Lasso.'”

“Right now I think one of the best shows we’ve done is on right now with ‘Presumed Innocent.’ The team’s done a a really incredible job for me personally, I’d say [our mission] has been quality over quantity.”