22-Year-Old Student Scores Surprise Tim Cook Interview

In an online interview released on Thursday, Apple CEO Tim Cook attributed many recent Apple device features to Chinese consumers’ feedback, demonstrating just how important the country’s market has become to one of the world’s most recognizable tech brands.

“So much of our lives are on the smartphone and there’s nowhere that that’s more true than in China,” Cook told tech influencer He Shijie, better known as He Tongxue, as part of a surprise online interview. “From eating to delivery to banking to paying to your health records, everything is on the phone,” the Apple CEO added.

A senior student at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, He started uploading self-made tech videos on streaming platform Bilibili in 2017 and now has almost 7 million followers on the site. He made his name in 2019 with a video showing how fast 5G is in real life — which is still his most popular video with 25 million views on Bilibili — and has since been one of the top tech influencers in China.

After the interview with Cook went live, the hashtag “He Tongxue interviewed Apple CEO” quickly became a trending search on social media platform Weibo, accumulating 210 million views in 12 hours.

In the 18-minute chat, Cook pointed to the influence of Chinese consumers on features such as specific keyboards, QR Code scanners, and Night Mode, all of which were standard smartphone features in China before Apple introduced them.

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In addition to making deferential comments to a hugely important consumer base for Apple, Cook also discussed a classic question that young people often wonder about: how to find that dream job. In answering this, Cook cited Steve Jobs by saying, “You’ll know it when you find it. And if you haven’t found it yet, you should keep looking.”

Cook’s official account Weibo also followed up with another message for the youth: “There’s no challenge young people can’t solve and no limit to the creativity a fresh perspective can bring. It was a pleasure talking to He about the opportunities we all have to learn, grow and help others in the Year of the Ox.”

For some students however, the interview represented something of a daunting challenge. One of the most upvoted comments reads, “Other people’s college life consists of interviewing the Apple CEO, while mine consists of just eating and idling in the dormitory.”

Cover image: Screenshot from He’s interview with Cook on Bilibili

This post was last modified on October 20, 2021 10:12 am

Lu Zhao is a bilingual and multimedia journalist with a focus on human interest and social issues. Her work has appeared in USA Today, UPI, SupChina, Pandaily, Chicago Reporter, and other publications.