What does Apple CEO Tim Cook, boss of the world's most valuable company and successor to the venerable Steve Jobs, have in common with NBC News anchor Brian Williams? On the surface, not a whole lot. But to hear Williams tell it, they're basically the same guy.
In his first TV interview as CEO, Cook sat down with Williams for a segment on "Rock Center" that aired at 10 p.m. ET on Thursday. The two raced through a slew of topics, touching on the passing of Steve Jobs, Cook's vision for keeping the company "cutting edge", plans to bring some manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. from China in 2013, a fleeting hint at an Apple-made TV set -- and more.
During the 20-minute interview, Williams cannot help but make several comparisons between himself and Cook. "It sounded to me that you and I grew up with the same American life, kind of grindingly simple and normal American middle class household — when you and I as kids would go to a neighbor’s house and see, under their new TV, Sony Trinitron, that would tell us something instantly," Williams said at one point.
Later, Williams pointed out that Cook looked more like an average guy than the demigod Jobs was to some Apple fans: "[Steve Jobs] was all black turtleneck and the glass frames and mystical and mysterious, and — you know, forgive me, you and I could work at a Best Buy. We’re, you know, plain-looking people."
Joking aside, the interview's high point came as the two discussed Apple's manufacturing partnerships overseas. Cook told Williams that Apple plans to make a line of existing Mac computers in the United States next year. In a Bloomberg Businessweek interview that hit the web on Thursday morning and became available in print on Friday, Cook also said that the company will invest $100 million to follow through with manufacturing partnerships in the U.S. in 2013. He did not, in either interview, specify which line of Macs would move stateside.
Cook's announcement comes at a time when Apple is working to investigate and improve upon reported worker mistreatment -- which includes low wages, long hours, hiring underage employees and unsafe working conditions -- by partners in Apple's global supply chain. His willingness to discuss the possibility of manufacturing in America throws him, once again, into stark contrast with Steve Jobs, who once told President Obama that "Those jobs aren't coming back."
Watch Part 1 of Cook's interview with Brian Williams above. Part 2 can be found below. Visit 9to5Mac for a full transcript of the segment.