Apple CEO Tim Cook appeared on stage at the annual D10 conference in California today to discuss the future of the company, the experience of losing Steve Jobs and taking over the role of CEO, the ‘amazing’ products that will be revealed at the company’s WWDC event June 11 and more.
Tim Cook began the interview stating he is “loving every minute” of his time as Apple CEO, and whet the appetite of Apple fans everywhere with his amazement at “all the things I cannot talk about today.”
Cook refused to disclose any clues as to what will be announced at the upcoming WWDC but did promise that people will like what they see.
Cook described the reception of the iPad and current-day Macs, detailing where he feels the products will head next.
“In my view the tablet and the PC are different. You can do things with the tablet if you are not encumbered by the legacy of the PC.”
“We didn’t invent the tablet market,” Cook continued. “It was there. We invented the modern tablet.”
“I don’t see the tablet replacing the need for all PCs.”
The Apple CEO believes the iPod opened the developed world to Apple, but the iPhone enabled Apple to reach a true global market in China, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Russia.
“The world opened all of a sudden.”
“The world has met Apple.”
“I learned a lot from Steve. It was absolutely the saddest days of my life when he passed away.”
At some point late last year, I sort of, somebody kind of shook me and said, ‘it’s time to get on’”. That sadness was replaced by his intense determination to continue the Apple journey.
In his new role at Apple, Cook concedes he cannot replace Jobs.
“Steve was a genius and a visionary…He’s an irreplaceable person. Steve was an original and I don’t think there is another one of those being made. I’ve never felt the weight of trying to be Steve. It’s not who I am and it’s not my goal in life.”
Cook recalls being headhunted by Jobs and accepting a role at Apple.
“It was a very interesting meeting. Steve had hired an executive search firm to find someone to run operations. I had gotten a call a few times and said no. They kept calling and they kept calling.”
He flew out Friday on a red eye for a Saturday morning meeting. “Five minutes into the conversation I am wanting to join Apple. I am shocked at this because it wasn’t what I envisioned at all.”
Manufacturing in China
On the issue of the company’s supplier factories’ working conditions in China, Cook admitted Apple’s manufacturing structure could be better.
“Some people want to work a lot. They want to move and work for a year or two and then move back to their village and bring back as much money as they can.”
According to Cook Apple is tracking 700,000 workers in China and now has a 95 percent compliance rate.
“I don’t know anyone else (that) is doing this,” Cook said. “We’re micromanaging this.”
According to Cook the ongoing patent disputes are a “pain in the arse.”
“From our point of view, it is important for Apple not be the developer for the world,” Cook said. “We just want other people to invent their own stuff.”
“The vast majority of those are on standards-essential patents…This is an area where the patent system is broken today.”
“No one should be able to get an injunction off a standards-essential patent.”
“It’s kind of gotten crazy,” he said. “It’s not going to stop us from innovating but it’s overhead. It’s overhead that I wish didn’t exist.”
Apple TV set
On the television market, Cook believes Apple will stay in the area despite the relatively stable sales, but would not comment on a potential TV set.
We’re not a hobby kind of company, as you know…We’ve stuck to this.”
“It’s not a fifth leg of the stool. It’s not of the same market size of the phone business or the Mac business or the music business or the tablet business.”
In reference to Siri, Cook thinks it has changed the way people interact with their phone.
“Customers love it. It’s one of the most popular features of iPhone 4S. But there’s more that it can do and we have a lot of people working on this. And I think you will be really pleased with some of the things you see over the coming months on this. We have some cool ideas about what Siri can do. We have a lot going on on this.”
“I think you are going to be really pleased with where we take Siri,” Cook said. “This is something that people dreamed of for years, I think, and it is here. Yes, it can be broader and so forth, but we see unbelievable potential here.”
“I view that we are in gaming now in a fairly big way. One of the reasons people buy an iPod touch is gaming. Some buy it for music. I realise that is not the big screen you are talking about. Gaming has kind of evolved a bit. More people play on portable devices. Where we might go in the future, we’ll see. Customers love games.”
“I’m not interested in being in the console business in what is thought of as traditional gaming. But Apple is a big player today and things in the future will only make that bigger.”
The future of Apple
The goals at Apple are product-driven according to Cook, not financial.
“I just want to build great products… I think if we do that then the other things follow.”