We now know why Apple went on an uncharacteristically high profile Tim Cook publicity campaign earlier this month, the company was likely jockeying for the coveted Time Person of the Year cover. Alas, Cook has been named runner-up, losing to President Obama. But he still got the cover treatment, and he's in great company.
Time's annual Person of the Year tradition began way back in 1927 and ever since has served as a kind of cultural touchstone for individuals making a global impact on humanity. In addition to Cook, this year's other runner-ups include a civil rights activist, a physicist working at the Large Hadron Collider, and a politician.
The profile on Cook as runner-up is pretty much standard fare in terms of laying out his background, but it does make an interesting attempt to spice up an individual mostly regarded as a by-the-book, low key executive. The magazine says Cook is "a seducer, a Southern drawler, slow and soft-spoken. He has been observed winking. He doesn't come at you; he waits for you to come to him. And sooner or later you do, not because you have to but because, dang it, you want to." Not really the kind of edgy stuff we're used to hearing about Apple's leadership (no elevator firings, or declarations of war against Google), but it does offer a bit more color on a man in charge of the most successful computer company on the planet.
Interestingly, although many expected Steve Jobs to win the honor posthumously after his death last year, the Apple co-founder never got the nod. Other tech luminaries who have been named in recent years are Intel's Andy Grove (1997), Amazon's Jeff Bezos (1999), and Mark Zuckerberg (2010). Included in the Cook runner-up profile is an interactive graphic that takes readers through his upbringing up until his current role as CEO. Getting the cover would have been nice, but after just a year in the top slot, this kind of recognition is a huge boost for a company still trying to find its new, Steve Jobs-less identity.