John Sculley: Tim Cook's FTC request on consumer privacy 'makes so much sense'

By John SculleyOpinionFOXBusiness

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Many pundits are putting their spin on the question – “Has Apple lost its passion for innovation?”

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Tim Cook has made his most profound prediction since Steve Jobs died on Oct 5, 2011. Tim predicted that looking back from future decades, Apple will be best known for what it has done to empower people in the care of their own health.


Apple is already legendary for its innovations with personal communications, reinventing photography, and reinventing how we experience music. So why is Tim Cook so optimistic about health, a relatively new endeavor for Apple?

In the early days, Steve taught all of us who worked with him that his dream was for Apple to be a shaper of new consumer industries. Steve’s genius was to see what everyone would eventually accept as obvious, though he saw it 20 years before the rest of us. Steve’s mantra was, “Zoom-out, connect the dots between non-obvious things, then, zoom-in and simplify.”

Steve’s dream was constructed on a framework of “first principles” that guided everything Apple designers and engineers imagined and built. One of his “first principles” was to only recruit exceptionally talented employees who shared his passion to create significantly better ways to solve really challenging design problems, and do so with no compromises.

These “first principles” are so deeply embedded into Apple’s culture that it gives Tim Cook a huge advantage to take on truly innovative aspirations as ambitious as shaping the future for consumer engaged health technology.

Let’s connect the dots.

No consumer brand has earned the admiration and consumer trust as much as Apple. Apple under Tim Cook is extremely disciplined and still culturally bound to Steve’s “first principles.” Apple’s growth has pivoted towards platform-based services, demonstrating that Apple is still agile and innovative.

Tim Cook’s request to the FTC to consider creating a regulated clearinghouse for consumers’ most personal data, like health data, should give assurance for privacy and data protection. It makes so much sense.


The best innovators in the next decade will be those corporations that turn cool products that people love into ever more powerful platform-based services that solve important societal challenges. Health is the largest and most complicated market Apple has ever chosen to transform.

Apple is reimaging possibilities for its Apple Watch as it begins shifting focus towards a wearable system of powerful personalized medical alerts. Early platform-based service examples includes notification when a patient falls down or enabling consumers to routinely monitor heart Atrial Fibrillation. These things can’t be done at scale unless a patient feels assured that their very personal and private data will be protected.

Apple has also been quietly building a network of respected health institutions across the US. We know that a systemic transformation for health institutions from hierarchical organizations of unconnected data fiefdoms into consumer empowering platforms that integrate both patients and health professionals will be essential for true health innovation to flourish.

There are currently 19 million seniors enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. Apple needs to build the most trusted health platform that successfully integrates their iPhone and Apple Watch products. Apple needs to make it as easy for patients to adopt better health behaviors as it is for Apple users to share their photos and enjoy music.

If an Apple platform of integrated health services can encourage many seniors to better routine behaviors that might avoid a visit to the emergency room, it will help the health-care payers and providers to significantly reduce their costs while helping millions of consumers to adopt better lifestyle behaviors.

These new Apple initiatives now have the potential to affect a major paradigm shift in health care. Where Apple leads other platform corporations are likely to follow. The race is on.

John Sculley is the former CEO of Apple, serving from 1983 - 1993. Sculley co-founded Zeta Global and currently serves as chairman and CMO of RXAdvance.