To begin with, Cook made it clear that he didn't believe in quarterly cycles and that there aren't benchmarks of what a company like Apple is capable of. Apple report quarterly figures because they have to, he said. As for the question of frustrated shareholders who haven't reacted well to Apple's slowing profits, Apple have always looked at the bigger picture and its a question of where the company was five years ago and where they are now.
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Cook even took a dig at analysts who have been and are projecting a grim view of Apple's finances and its future as a company ever since Jobs was in charge. "They were saying it in 2005. They were saying it in 2007 — ‘this stupid iPhone, whoever dreamed up this thing?’ Then they were saying that we peaked in 2010, then it was 2011. We got to $60 billion [in revenue], and they said you can’t grow anymore from this. Well, last year we were $230 billion. And, yes, we’re coming down some this year. Every year isn’t an up, you know,' he added.
When asked about technologies that excited him the most, Cook picked out artificial intelligence and augmented reality as as the most revolutionary ones. Siri just turned five and now works with a range of third party apps. Its predictive capabilities have also improved a lot and its breadth is unbelievable, said Cook. When asked about augmented or virtual reality, he said, I think AR [augmented reality] is extremely interesting and sort of a core technology. So, yes, it’s something we’re doing a lot of things on behind that curtain that we talked about." Now that does say something about what Apple may be planning to work on in the coming years, if work hasn't already begun.
A Tim Cook interview won't be a Tim Cook interview if it doesn't have a mention of the much-talked about, but yet unannounced Apple Car. The Washington Post did put out a question, but Cook's response was equally predictable. "I can’t answer a question about something we haven’t announced." However, he did talk a bit about Apple's R&D efforts, a lot of which is focussed on new product lines.
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"But we have ramped up R&D because we are heavily investing in the future — both in current product lines and things that aren’t visible as well, including in services. In due time, some of those things will be visible. But there will always be other things that will replace those things that are invisible," he said. Dare I say that he said a lot about what we want to know without revealing much.
Apple's iPhones contributed to 2/3rds of the company's revenues last year, which makes a lot of people worried that if the iPhone falls, the company will fall too. To add to that, sales in China were down 33% in the last quarter. Tim Cook responded to such concerns by saying that the company thinks long term and its performance in the recent past was due to speed bumps in the economy and the overall smartphone market. "There are, sort of, speed bumps now with the economy. In a year-ago quarter, we were up 112 percent. So I think you have to back up and put it in perspective. If you look at it over a two-year basis, we were up over 50 percent in the quarter," he said.
As for the performance of Apple's services, Cook said that services like the iCloud, Apple Music, Apple Pay and the App Store grew from $4 billion in value to $23 billion in just 12 months and will be a Fortune 100 company by next year. As such, dependence on the iPhone isn't as much as it seems to analysts.
Tug-of-war between Apple and FBI ends with hacking of iPhone
Cook also talked about the 'very, very difficult' times when the company was at loggerheads with the FBI about the unlocking of an iPhone belonging to a terrorist. He said that the company first checked if it did possess the technology to unlock an iPhone, and when they realised they did, they asked themselves if unlocking the iPhone was the right thing to do. "The risk of what happens if it got out, we felt, could be incredibly terrible for public safety." Apple stood firm against the FBI until an 'unnamed' third party hacker helped the agency unlock the device.
Regarding the question of unlocking of the iPhone in question, he said, "Honestly? I was shocked that they would even ask for this. That was the thing that was so disappointing that I think everybody lost in the whole thing. There are 200-plus other countries in the world. Zero of them had ever asked this."
Source: Washington Post