Cook: Apple products not made for “endless, mindless scrolling”


As described in Bustle, Apple CEO Tim Cook recently made his first trip to the Big Apple in two years. Of course, the itinerary included a trip to a New York City Apple Store and an exhibition of photos shot by iPhone cameras at the International Center of Photography. But it also included a meeting with the co-founders of a mental health app called Shine which Cook is very high on.
Shine has over 4 million users in 189 countries delivering daily meditations designed to make the user less anxious. The app offers free meditation and a daily article but after a free week, you’ll have to pay $64.99 annually to have access to Shine’s library of more than 1,000 meditations, personalized meditations, members-only events, and the ability to track your moods. A paid subscription also entitles the subscriber to have one-on-one support through a private digital community. 

Tim Cook and Apple have a shine on Shine

Shine co-founder Naomi Hirabayashi described why she and Mara Lidy created the app. “When we looked at the way that wellness was being marketed or talked about on a mainstream level, it didn’t resonate,” she said. “It felt like it was kind of this luxury commodity that was sold to a certain persona, a certain body type, a certain disposable income.”

Cook spoke with Bustle and was asked why Apple has taken quite a shine to Shine. The executive said, “Well, they won [Apple’s Best of the App Store] in 2020. And there probably wasn’t a year that would have made them more essential — with the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd, and these things coming together and intersecting in such a way that no one would have predicted.”

The CEO believes that mental health is a crisis that most people suffer through by being quiet about it  and cutting themselves off from the rest of the world. Talking about Shine, he says that the co-founders “have done this incredible job, bringing together community and stitching together a number of different things that will make [change] systemic in nature instead of a slogan. So I’m super impressed by what they’re doing and how they got started.”

It isn’t a coincidence that an app like Shine gets the attention of Apple and its CEO at a time when social media apps like Facebook are creating dissension and are feeding the flames of anxiety around the world. And even the top executive of the highest valued company in the U.S., a man who doesn’t have to worry about where his next meal is coming from, needs to monitor his mental health. Cook states, “You know, I don’t have an S on my chest and a cape on my back. I suffer from the pandemic lows as much as everybody else does. I know that I’m privileged in so many ways, but none of us are privileged to the point that mental health is not a key factor in life.”

Cook says that he doesn’t want the iPhone to be used for “endless, mindless scrolling”

And while some point their finger at the smartphone as being the culprit, Cook sees the iPhone in a different light. “I’ve often worried about the endless scrolling, the surrounding yourself with negativity and so forth. And so elevating a company like Shine and getting people to go check it out — that’s a great use of our technologies because that does serve humanity.”

Cook adds, “Their whole company is based on this. And it’s how we look at the world. We want people to do things with their devices, like the photography exhibit that we both enjoyed, or connecting with family and friends with FaceTime. Not endless, mindless scrolling.”

Tim also noted that not even the late Steve Jobs grasped the potential of the App Store when Apple opened its doors in 2008. He noted that the App Store on a global basis saw $643 billion in billings and sales last year. “Think about it — it’s an economic miracle,” Cook says. “And it’s why [a company like Shine] can have a global business. I mean, they started a global business from a coffee shop.”

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