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The Apple car just made the 'mother of all' lists: Tim Cook's most-hyped projects

  • Tim Cook recently said Apple was working on "the mother of all AI projects."
  • He's used the phrase "mother of all" to describe everything from Apple's balance sheet to computer processors to months of the year.
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc.
Getty Images
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook made a lofty proposition this month: That Apple was working on "the mother of all A.I. [artificial intelligence] projects."

Cook tipped his hand in an interview with Bloomberg, when he confirmed the company is working on self-driving cars, something that had been reported by a variety of media outlets since early 2015.

"We're focusing on autonomous systems," Cook told Bloomberg. "Clearly one purpose of autonomous systems is self-driving cars. There are others. We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects."

It certainly sounds dramatic — except that Cook has said this just a few times before. Here are some other products that Cook has called "the mother of all" innovations.

"The mother of all products"

  • Apple's new headquarters: Cook told Fortune that Apple Park, the company's long-awaited space-ship like headquarters, was the "mother of all products." "I hate the word 'headquarters," he told Fortune in 2015. "There's real work going on here. It isn't overhead, and we're not bureaucrats."

"The mother of all opportunities"

  • Enterprise technology: "Enterprise is like the mother of all opportunities," Cook told Bloomberg Businessweek this month. "At one point in time you had to choose, 'Do you want to do consumer or enterprise?' But the reality today is a bit different: Enterprises are a collection of consumers."

    "The mother of all years" 

    • 2012: Cook told investors in 2013 that 2012 was the "mother of all years," The Los Angeles Times reports. Cook highlighted the iPhone 5, developing countries, the retail stores and the iPad Mini.

    "The mother of all releases"

    • iOS 10: At WWDC 2016, Cook called iOS 10 the "mother of all releases." The new mobile operating system brought a rebooted Apple Music, expanded use of Siri on iPhone with Apple TV, and the expansion of Apple Pay across devices. He said the same of 2014's iOS release, according to

    "The mother of all thermal challenges"

    • PowerBook G5: The company had trouble getting the right processor to run in the laptop, creating a slowdown in Apple's 2005 laptop lineup, according to two earnings transcripts provided by FactSet.

    "The mother of all uplifts" 

    • The iPhone 4S: An analyst asked Cook on a conference call whether he felt customers deferred the purchase of their iPhones because of rumors that a new one was coming. Cook told an analyst in 2011 that the company was getting "fantastic" feedback on the iPhone 4S compared to the iPhone 4.

    The turn of phrase may seem like an odd verbal tic from Cook, but it has a history in the field of computer science: The first major demonstration of the computer mouse and many elements of graphical displays in 1968 is widely known as "the mother of all demos."

    But others have associated the saying with Cook: Bloomberg's Shira Ovide and former CNET writer Dan Farber have both pointed out his fondness for the expression, and Cook's the only Apple executive to have used the phrase during public events tracked by FactSet.

    So as Cook's predecessor, Steve Jobs, would say, the Apple Car is just "one more thing" on a mixed list.