Apple CEO Tim Cook, sitting for an interview May 28 at the 11th D: All Things Digital event, gave interviewers Kara Swisher and Walter Mossberg surely exactly what they expected: a lot of smiles, a lot of demurrals and very little new information.
What Cook did say for certain is that Apple will roll out the next versions of iOS and OS X at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, that design guru Jony Ive has been “key” to the new versions, and that they’ll better blend hardware, software and services.
Cook also said that the Maps app has come a long way (“We screwed up”) but that it doesn’t yet meet his standards; that in the future Apple will open itself up a bit more to third parties (though “not to the degree that we put the customer at risk of having a bad experience”); that Apple, like Netflix, doesn’t feel the need to own exclusive content (“We need to have access to great content”); and that Apple generally acquires about six companies a year and has already acquired nine during its current fiscal year.
He also said he doesn’t care that Android’s numbers beat iOS—and yes, he does read the reports—because iOS devices are used more by their owners.
“More important than the [sales] numbers, customers love them,” said Cook, according to reports from DailyTech and All Things D. “The usage of these products is unbelievable. The latest NetApp numbers look at usage, and I follow these closely. Usage worldwide, smartphones and tablets, from Web traffic—59 percent is from iOS. Worldwide! I look at that, I feel pretty good.”
Cook revealed nothing regarding two products that the world is nonetheless expecting within the year—an Apple television and a smart watch.
Regarding a smart watch—which Cook didn’t admit the company is making—he said it’s a more natural thing than glasses for large numbers of people to wear.
“I wear glasses because I have to. I can’t see without them. I don’t know a lot of people that would wear them that don’t have to,” said Cook. He added that Google Glass is “probably not likely to be a mass-market item,” and is more likely to appeal to “certain markets.”
The wrist “is more natural,” he said, though you still have to convince people to wear a watch. “The whole sensor field is going to explode. It’s a little all over the place right now, but with the arc of time it will become clearer.”
Cook did say that he wears a Nike FuelBand and that “Nike did a great job with this.” (A safe bet would seem an Apple watch with features catering to athletes, even the weekend kind.)
The better products tend to be the ones that do only one thing, as the ones that do several things tend to do none of them well, Cook added, concluding that it’s an area “ripe for exploration.”
Regarding the television, Cook would say only generally that it’s an area of interest for Apple, and that the television, in general, is an appliance that hasn’t been updated to this decade.
“I don’t want to go any further on this because I don’t want to give anybody any ideas. There is a very grand vision,” said Cook.
Regarding his appearance before a Senate subcommittee to discuss the U.S. corporate tax code earlier this month, Cook said it was an opportunity to be proactive.
“The subcommittee was coming to certain conclusions, and we felt strongly that we looked at those very differently,” he said. “I thought it was very important to go tell our story and to view that as an opportunity, instead of a pain in the ass.”
Cook added that he presented a simpler approach, and that he hopes it helps to improve the current “Band-Aids and paperclips” approach that’s in place now.
“It was great to be a part of the process,” he said.