updated 07:36 pm EDT, Tue May 28, 2013
Apple CEO put under microscope by WSJ's Swisher, Mossberg
Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage Tuesday evening at the Wall Street Journal's D11 conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Kicking off the conference, journalists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher interviewed Apple's chief after nearly two years on the job.
Mossberg pulled no punches in the opening of the interview, querying Cook with "your stock is down significantly, Samsung's dominating Android. There's a sense that you lost your cool. That Samsung has the cool. Is Apple in trouble?" Cook responded negatively, reiterating sales figures and usage statistics from the current line of products, citing 59 percent of web traffic from mobile devices is from the iOS worldwide, disproving Mossberg's allegation.
Unswayed, Mossberg asked Cook if Apple was still the company that changed the game five or six times. Cook responded affirmatively saying that "Yes, we're still that company. We have some incredible plans that we've been working on for a while. We have some incredible ideas. The same culture, and largely the same people that delivered the iPhone and iPad, are still there. The culture is all still there, and many of the people are there. I think we have several more game-changers in us."
When queried about an Apple television initiative, Cook pointed to the Apple TV having sold 13 million units since release, with nearly half since the D10 conference last year. He did admit to thinking that the TV experience "could be better" and is "still an experience that is too much like 10 or 20 years ago" and after some additional questions from the duo trying to glean more information, said that he couldn't comment specifically, but "it continues to be an area of great interest for us."
On Google's wearable Google Glass technology, Cook paused to consider his thoughts before answering that "It's tough to see this having a broad-range appeal. But, I think wearables are incredibly interesting. I think it could be a profound area for technology," noting that he wears a Nike FuelBand. Cook believes that "there are lots of things to solve in this space. But, it's an area that's ripe for exploration. It's ripe for us all getting excited about. There will be tons of companies involved in this."
Speaking of a likely location for a wearable device, Cook mentioned that he thinks "there are other things in the space that could be interesting. Sensors are exploding. With the arc of time, it'll become clearer," and called the wrist "natural" for a smart device, but fell short of announcing a product, despite Mossberg's lead.
Refuting the current existence of a low-cost iPhone for the prepaid market, Cook claimed that "it takes a lot of work -- a lot of really detailed work, to do a phone right when you manage the software and services around it. We've chosen to focus our energy in getting those right. And we've made choices in order to do that, so we aren't defocused on multiple lines." Cook also passed on the notion of an Apple "phablet," saying that the device would require "a lot of trade-offs. Customers are clearly looking at size, but they're also looking at things like: do the photos show the right color? What's the battery life? There are a whole bunch of things important regarding the display. What our customers want is for us to weigh those and come out with a decision. At this stage, we think the Retina display that we're shipping is the best. In a hypothetical world where trade-offs don't exist, you could see that screen size would be a differentiation."
Cook alluded to Apple's acqusitions being funded by Apple's massive cash stockpile, mentioning that this year, the company had already acquired nine companies, beating the company's annual average of six. Not all of the acquisitions have been, or will be, announced, saying "of course we aren't going to announce them all -- only the ones we have to!"
When queried about when Cook thought that children should have iOS devices, Cook called parental involvement "key." He wants "kids to learn very young, but I want that experience curated by the parent. You obviously have to monitor the time spent on it. I don't think technology in and of itself is bad for youth."
Patent issues with Samsung weren't addressed until the question and answer session. Responding to a question about the Samsung patent lawsuits, and not entirely answering the question, Cook replied that "the pluses for the broader industry, is that I think we're run the standards-essential issue largely to ground. There were several companies trying to get injunctions for standards-essential. When Google sued us, and Samsung sued us with standards-essentials injunctions on our products. Largely, the world has said that this isn't right, and that it's an abuse. Not just for Apple." Cook amplified his remarks after a follow-up question saying that "generally, I don't like lawsuits any more than I did last year. But, I don't want copying. It's a values thing. This is about values at the end of the day."