Adam Lashinsky interviewed Tim Cook on February 12th (prior to the FBI court case news). The interesting notes comes in how Tim approaches Research and Development (R&D) with Lashinsky pushing Tim around automobile R&D:

[Adam:] Indeed. You’ve talked generally about autos, but you haven’t commented on Apple’s widely reported car project. Wikipedia has a long list of prominent auto industry people who have joined Apple. Why not take this opportunity to say, “You know what? It’s basically all there, and this is why we’re doing it”?

[Tim:] Yeah, I’m probably not going to do that. The great thing about being here is we’re curious people. We explore technologies, and we explore products. And we’re always thinking about ways that Apple can make great products that people love, that help them in some way. And we don’t go into very many categories, as you know. We edit very much. We talk about a lot of things and do fewer. We debate many things and do a lot fewer.

[Adam:] Can you afford to spend relatively large amounts of money on things you don’t end up commercializing?

[Tim:]Well, could we? Yes. But would we? We don’t have to spend large amounts to explore. So I can’t talk about this certain area that you’re talking about. But when we start spending large amounts of money, we’re committed at that point. But we explore things with teams of people. And that’s a part of being curious. Part of exploring technologies and picking the right one is becoming so familiar with it you can see ways that it can be used. And for us, we’ve never been about being first. We’ve been about being best. So we explore many different things, many different technologies. And at first we might not know what product it might wind up in. And then later we’ll see that that really cool technology enables maybe things that we’re doing today to take on something bigger, maybe something new. But once we start spending gobs of money–like when we start spending on tooling and things like that–we’re committed.