Apple CEO Tim Cook today made a presentation at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference. He touched on several topics; following is a summary of each point.
“Apple takes working conditions very seriously, and we have for a long time,” Cook says. “Whether the workers are in Europe, Asia or the U.S., we care about our workers … we believe every employee has the right to a safe working environment without discrimination and an opportunity to earn a competitive wage.”
He also discussed the educational opportunities Apple offers for its employees.
“In terms of problems we’re working to fix, no one in our industry is doing more to improve working conditions than Apple,” Cook says. “We’re constantly auditing facilities, going deep into the supply chain, looking for problems, reporting problems and fixing problems.”
He said that use of underage workers is rare in Apple’s supply chain. However, the goal is to eliminate it entirely, he added. Cook also said that Apple doesn’t cut corners on safety.
“Our code of conduct has a cap of 60 hours for a work week,” he said. “We have found consistent violations over a period of time. We’re determined to drive widespread change. We’re managing working hours at a very micro level.”
Although Apple sold 37 million iPhones in the last fiscal quarter. However, Cook says the smartphone market has “jaw dropping potential.”
“We’re focusing on making the world’s best product,” he said. “We think if we stay laser focused on that and the ecosystem surrounding it, we have a pretty good opportunity to take advantage of this key market.”
The iPhone is creating a “halo effect” for the Macintosh and the iPad, says Cook. For example, last year Mac sales in China grew 100% year-over-year.
Apple has shipped over 55 million iPads to date. Cook says he thinks the device’s popularity is before the product is incredible as is the pace of innovation on the product. He says the ecosystem with 170 million optimized apps is also incredible.
Cook says the iPad stands on the shoulders of everything that came before, such as the app ecosystem, the iPhone touchscreen and more. As for the future of tablets, it’s poised to become larger than the personal computer market.
“This doesn’t mean the computer is going to die,” Cook says. “I love the Mac and the Mac is still growing and will continue to grow.”
When it comes to the tablet market cannibalizing computer sales, he thinks the iPad has dinged Mac sales to some degree. However, he adds that he prefer Apple products be cannibalized by other Apple products rather than other companies’ products.”
“I don’t subscribe to the demise of the computer industry,” Cook says. “I think that overall tablets will be good for the computer industry” because it forces innovation.
Apple’s money reserves
Why has Apple been reluctant to buy back stock or issue a dividend? Cook says Apple has spent billions on acquisition, billions on infrastructure and billions on retail. Apple is judicious on how it spends its money, he adds. Apple is very active at the board of directors level on what to do with its cash reserves.
“This is being discussed more now and in greater detail,” Cook says. “… we have more money than we need to run the company on a daily basis.”
Apple TV and Apple HDTV
When it comes to the television market, and the rumored “iTV,” Cook says Apple sold just shy of three million Apple TVs last year. Sales are clearly ramping, but we call it a hobby because we don’t want to send a message that we think the market for it is the size of the Mac or iPhone or iPad or iPod markets.
“Apple doesn’t do hobbies as a specific rule,” Cook says. “We believe in focus. But with the Apple TV, we’ve always thought there was something there and if we keep working on it and pulling the strings, we might find the bigger market.”
Siri and iCloud
Cook says Siri and iCloud are “profound” products. iCloud is designed to make your life so much easier, and Apple has over 100 million iCloud users so far, he adds.
“And there’s so much more we can do with it,” Cook says. “This is not a solution that has a year or two shelf life. iCloud and Siri are things that you’ll talk with your grandkids about as profound changes.”
Siri is another profound change for input, he says. It doesn’t feel like a product that’s still in beta, Cook adds.
Cook says that the goal of his leadership as CEO is to maintain the “magic” of Apple.
“Apple is this unique company and culture that you can’t replicate,” he adds. “I’m not going to witness or permit the slow undoing of it, because I believe in it so deeply. Steve grilled in us so deeply over so many years that Apple should revolve around great projects and that we should stay focused on a few things and that we would only go into markets where we could make an impact on society, not just sell a lot of products.”
— Dennis Sellers