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Tim Cook discusses Steve Jobs, personal privacy, and Apple's role as a social leader

Apple CEO Tim Cook waxed nostalgic about his relationship with the late Steve Jobs, reiterated the company's commitment to its customers' privacy, and discussed his thoughts on Apple's ability to influence social change during a sit-down with German tabloid BILD earlier this week.

Tim Cook meets with Bild editors Kai Diekmann and Julian Reichelt | Via Twitter.

Steve Jobs was "by far the best teacher I ever had," Cook told BILD's Sven Stone and Nick Star, saying Jobs taught him to ignore sales goals or awards and simply take pleasure in building great products. Cook worries that Jobs's outsized personality overshadows his other qualities, but vowed not to let the mercurial Apple co-founder be forgotten.

"His office is still there, with his name on it. And it will always be there as long as I'm here," he said.
Tim Cook said Steve Jobs's office will remain at Apple's headquarters as long as he is CEO of the company.
Moving to the hot-button issue of personal privacy, Cook continued to distance Apple from companies like Google and Facebook, which depend on collecting user data for their advertising-based businesses to thrive. Apple only asks customers for information when it can help improve their products, he said, and customers have a right to withhold information whenever they wish.

Cook somewhat surprisingly praised NSA leaker Edward Snowden, whose revelations of widespread government surveillance have caused major problems for U.S. technology firms, including Apple.

"If Snowden accomplished anything for us," Cook said, "then it was to get us to talk more about these things. Our values were always the same."

Referring to the company's newly-open attitude toward working conditions in its supply chain, Cook expressed his belief that Apple can leverage its size to play a major role as a social leader.

"We are working on our social responsibility," he said. "In the past, we just kept everything secret. But as Apple grew larger, we realized that we can actually change something more in the world, if we are extremely transparent in social issues such as privacy, security, education and environmental protection."

That openness does not extend to future products, however. On the rumored Apple Car, Cook remained mum.

"I have read the rumors. I can't comment on that," he said.