Tim Cook has revealed he’s gay without much controversy, but the Apple CEO is facing one skeptical question: why now? The answer is a matter of timing. Although well known inside the tech industry at the time he was promoted to the head job at Apple, he was a virtual unknown to the average user. Nevermind that Cook was the company’s COO for more than a decade and was arguably a silent co-CEO with the late Steve Jobs; he was a blank slate when he took over as top dog. And it wasn’t all smiles during his two years on the job.
Cook had to navigate through the fact that he just happened to take over at Apple during a natural lull in the company’s product evolution. The iPhone was in a transitional phase in which a few models in a row each looked like their predecessor. Nevermind that those products had already been greenlit by Jobs himself before his passing; critics lined up to insist that the sameness of the 4S and the 5 was a sign that Tim Cook wasn’t up to the task or that Apple had run out of ideas. Worse, new product lines like the Apple Watch were still in secret stages of development, giving nothing for Cook to show off.
It wasn’t until these past two months when Cook was finally able to take the wraps off a number of innovations which have helped jumpstart existing product lines while unveiling entirely new ones. The latest iPhone is a total revamp, and a record setting hit. The Apple Watch points to the direction of Apple’s products for the next decade, and has his fingerprints all over it. Sales of Mac computers are now at an all time high even as PC-based competitors struggle, and Apple’s earnings are through the roof. Suddenly, it turns out Tim Cook has known what he was doing all along. And now that he’s established himself in that regard, now that he’s firmly introduced himself as the next behemoth at Apple, now he seems finally ready to introduce himself as a person as well.
He’s done so in increments. He loves his alma mater Auburn. He’s a big fan of Nike. And yes, he’s proud to be gay. None of these things had a chance of mattering to the average tech user until they figured out that Tim Cook is indeed the guy who’s going to be delivering the bulk of the tech innovations in their lives for the next decade.