A dapper Tim Cook will be sitting down with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher this evening in Racho Palos Verdes, California, where AllThingsDigital’s D10 Conference will be held for the next three days as tech industry heavyweights are invited to speak and demo new products. Since last August, Tim Cook has continued to drive Apple’s success with new product launches of the iPhone 4S and the iPad 3. Apple has given stock dividends, joined the Fair Labor Association, and has reported its best quarter ever since Cook was promoted to CEO. We expect most of tonight’s interview to focus on his tenure at Apple, what’s in the company’s future, and how Cook views the tech industry and the pace of innovation that’s currently happening.
All Things Digital has made available an iPhone/Android app so readers can stay updated on upcoming events and interviews during the conference. Livestreams will be made available for certain speakers, and Twitter users can follow the conversation around D10 through the hashtag #atd10. A livestream for Tim Cook’s talk will not be available, but there should be a recorded session available by Wednesday.
As the conversation with Tim Cook gets underway, we’ll be highlighting some of the key takeaways and sharing thoughts and opinions from around the web that occur as a result of what Tim Cook says or doesn’t say. We’re looking forward to the interview, and hope you’ll tune in with us at 9:00 EST as we quietly follow along with the live transcripts.
Update 9:23: Tim Cook is on stage! We’ll be posting highlights past the break.
- Kara Swisher asks Tim about the state of Apple. Tim replies: “It’s an absolute, incredible time to be with Apple. I’m loving every minute of it and I think everyone at Apple is too. For years we’ve been focused on innovation. And never before have I seen the things I can’t talk about today. The juices are flowing. We have some incredible things coming.”
- Tim then moves on to Apple’s success with the iPhone and iPad. On the iPad in particular, Tim exclaims, “I think we’re in the first inning on it.”
- “That’s a great question! I’m not gonna answer it.” Tim won’t tell Kara what he’s unveiling at WWDC next week.
- Tim Cook sees the tablet market displacing the PC market. Walt Mossberg fired back at Tim, saying Microsoft’s approach is to unify the experience of Windows across their platforms. Upon asking Tim why this approach wouldn’t work for Apple, Tim says, “The tablet is different. It can do things that aren’t encumbered by what the PC was… products are about tradeoffs, you have to choose.”
- Mossberg asked Cook what makes him different as CEO. Tim expounded on what lessons he took away from his experience with Jobs. From The Verge: “What did I learn from him? We could be here all night. I learned that focus is key — in a company and your personal life. You can only do so many things great, and you should cast aside the rest. I learned that owning the tech is important. Doing things great — not accepting good, but only the very best.”
- Tim says that Jobs taught him to look forward, and that the culture of Apple won’t change. Tim does pronounce however that he is going to change things, but not the DNA. Curious as to what Tim is going to do differently, Walt asks him what’s going to change. Tim says, “Just do what’s right. And I’m doing that,” again recalling on experiences with Steve Jobs.
- Walt presses again. “…we’ll talk about them when we’re ready.”
- Asking in a roundabout way, Kara asks Tim about the leaks at Apple. “I’ve heard you’re a lot less secret” she says. Tim responds, “We’re going to double down on secrecy on products. But there will be things we’re a lot less secretive about.” Particularly, Tim elaborates this pertains to monthly reports with suppliers.
- Kara asks Tim to assess the “China situation.” Tim says the operational stuff is all on them, but they believed someone could do the manufacturing stuff better. “We took a position to say we want to bring this down. We’re measuring working hours for 700,000 people… and we’re reporting it.”
- Walt talks about manufacturing in the United States, and how it might be making a return thanks to wages becoming more attractive. Tim says he wants there to be and that there already is. “We’ve already… this is not well known, but the engine for the iPad and iPhone are built in the US. The glass is made at a plant in Kentucky.”
- Tim says that because of how the markets work, Chinese workers often have more skills than US citizens when it comes to manufacturing (the skill of tool and die). He claims there wouldn’t be enough workers capable to fill positions needed to bring certain jobs here, but he says that there are many things that Americans can do. “We will do as many of these that we can do. And we will use the whole of our influence to do it.”
- Kara asks Tim why Apple even bothers making a PC (a Mac). Tim: “Well I don’t mean the tablet should replace the PC, but I think for some people it overtakes what they do with a PC.”
- Kara then asks Tim about the patent war problem. “Well it’s a pain in the ass,” Tim replies. “The worst thing in the world that can happen to you, is if you’re an engineer and you’ve given your life to something, is to have someone rip it off.” Tim says he doesn’t want Apple to be the “developer for the world.”
- Tim says that he can’t talk about settlement talks when confronted by Walt, nor does he want to talk about other companies. Tim did rant for a minute though, claiming that companies suing others over patents are trying to get injunctions over something that they should instead be licensing. He says, “We have not sued anyone over a standards essential patent.”
- Kara asks Tim about the competitive landscape. “I think we have the best phone.”
- Tim says that the smartphone market is a billion unit market 3 years from now, but that after a few years he’s not sure if it will even be a smartphone market anymore (insinuating that phones will get even better).
- Walt says that Android companies are looking at fewer models, and Tim retorts, “I wonder where they got that idea…”
- Walt asks why Tim doesn’t simplify the Mac or iPod line. Tim says, “Our North Star is to make the best product. Our goal isn’t to make the design for this price point or this schedule, or line up other things, or to have x number of phones. It’s to build the best.”
- Walt: “Why can’t you make a more affordable iPhone?” Tim says Apple could do that, but he’s not going to conjecture.
- Tim cook expands on the iPod shuffle, saying that Apple wasn’t trying to make a $49 dollar product, but that they ended up making an inexpensive device that got better and better. The results of the different products made were different price points.
- Walt asked if Apple could make a 7-inch iPad. Tim says, “You should come to our meetings!”
- Kara changes the topic to TV and asks Tim, “How are you going to change TV?” Tim talks about the Apple TV, and says that they aren’t a hobby company, but that they’ve stuck with the Apple TV. “…Last year we sold a little less than 3 million Apple TVs. This year, in just a first few months, we’ve sold 2.7 million.”
- Tim’s not going to answer Walt on whether there will be an Apple branded television.
- Walt keeps pressing. “Hypothetically, do you think someone can build all of the stuff you need into a box and that’s good enough?” Tim asks Walk, “We would ask, can we control the tech? Can we make a contribute in this area? Can we make a product that we would want? … This is how we think about it.”
- Kara asks if the Apple TV is good enough. Tim says that he loves the product, but Walt chimes in and says that content is scarce. Tim says that people love Netflix, but Walt says that there’s no streaming content. Continuing, “You can rent shows.” “But I have to buy the shows… You’re not solving every problem here.” Tim concedes: “I agree.”
- Kara asks what Tim’s relationship is like with Hollywood. Tim says that Apple has good relationships with content owners, and that they don’t want their stuff ripped off. He says that Hollywood views Apple positively because they care about the industry, and that the Mac itself is a boon to Hollywood’s success. Steve Job’s relationships brought Apple closer to Hollywood.
- Walt, jumping back to the Apple television: “Are you working on some kind of content service for my living room?” Tim Cook avoids the question. Kara then asks if Apple would fund original programming. “I don’t think Apple has to own a content business.”
- Kara asks what the relationship is like between Facebook and Apple. Tim says that “Facebook is a great company. … I think we can do more with them. Stay tuned.”
- “Aren’t you kind of must-haves for each other?” Kara asks. Tim says that they want to provide a simple way for customers to do what they want to do and that Facebook has millions of customers. “We want them to have the best experience on our platform.”
- Kara asks if Tim foresees buying big companies that people couldn’t help but notice. “Did you consider Instagram?” Tim says Apple didn’t, and that they’re not looking at a big company right now.
- Walt says that Apple bought Siri. “[Siri] launched at this conference so we take credit for that,” he jokes. “But a lot of times it doesn’t actually work … and it’s still a beta. What’s up with that?” Tim says that Customer’s love it, that it’s one of the most popular features on the 4S, and that he thinks Siri’s proven that people want to relate to the phone in a different way.
- “Siri becomes many people’s best friend,” Tim says. Walk replies, “Isn’t that sad?” “I’m not a judge,” says Tim. “I think you’ll be pleased where we’re taking Siri. … it’s [about] the understanding.” Tim says that talking to a computer is something people wanted for years, and that it’s finally here.
- Kara asks Tim what he does all day and if he considers himself a visionary. “Steve was a genius and visionary. As you know, I’ve never viewed my role as to replace him. … Steve was an original. … [I am] focused on being a great CEO of Apple.”
- Walt aks who’s the new curator at Apple. Tim says that Apple has a privilege on products, and that no one person can do it all.
- Kara asks Tim what’s his goal for the company. Tim: “I want to build great products. There’s not a specific revenue goal.”
- Kara asks Tim about his inspiration. “What do you look up to? A person? A company?” Tim: “If you walked in my office you’d see Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. If we’re talking about CEOs, I have incredible respect for Bob Iger and what he’s done at Disney.”
Q & A
- Upon being asked about what’s happened to educational discounts, Tim says that the education market is still very important for Apple, and that they’ll continue to “sweeten the deal” for Back to School. Tim then mentions the importance and impact of programs like iTunes U, which can provide a free, greater education. iBooks Author and its impact on textbooks is also mentioned.
- Tim on being asked his strengths and weaknesses as a person: “I think you should do it. I’ll leave that for you.”
- Q: “Are you as involved in marketing and design as Steve was?” A: “No… Steve spent virtually all his time on those two things. I’m spending my time in many areas, not exclusively those two.”
- Upon being about ISPs and their bandwidth caps on customers, Tim replies he doesn’t think Apple needs to own a carrier, and he says that carriers know a lot more about their issues. He says, “I want to make great devices and use some of the bandwidth. But I don’t feel we need to own the pipe to do that.”
- Q: “What did Jobs tell you to join when he recruited you, and could you envision what happened?” A: “It was an interesting meeting.” Tim recalls Steve Job’s search for an operations guy, and that Tim initially turned the request down, but he kept getting called. He met with Steve, and five minutes later wanted to join Apple. “Honest to god truth, five minutes into the conversation I wanted to join Apple. I was shocked at this.” Tim Cook went back and retired from his position at Compaq immediately. Elaborating on his experience with Apple, “But an Apple customer was a unique breed. And there was this emotion that you just don’t see in technology in general.” Job’s pitch, combined with Apple’s presence and community, sold Cook on the position.
- Someone asked cook why Apple jumps around in names. For example, from the iPad 2 to iPad, or from the iPhone 3 to 4 to 4S. Tim replied that their other product lines are no different. People still call the latest MacBook a MacBook, and the latest iPod shuffle an iPod shuffle. “As in the case of the 4s… We were thinking of Siri when we did it. For the 3GS we were thinking of Speed.”
- Q: “What’s the biggest change now that Steve isn’t at the company?” A: “I can’t say anything else has surprised me…” Tim said that taking on the position of CEO has been astounding, and that customers and employees have been overwhelming supportive.
- Tim is asked about wearable technologies. “I have the Nike+ Fuel band. The question is, can this change someone’s behavior? If it’s just a cool thing to know, it will fade. But if it can really drive someone to behave differently, then I think it can be pretty cool.”
- The Verge’s next question deals with Apple’s presence as a big player in the gaming space. “Is gaming your future?” A: “I view that we’re in gaming now. One of the prime reasons to buy an iPod touch is for gaming… If you view the market more broadly, then I feel we are a pretty big player today and that the things we do in the future will only make that bigger.” Q: “What about on the television?” A: “I think it could be interesting.”
- MacRumors asks why people care so much about Apple and wanting to know everything about what happens with the company. “I view our ecosystem as including great sites that care deeply about the company and what we’re doing. I have no problem with people who disagree with what we’re doing —that’s what makes this country great.”
- Upon being asked about advertisements, Tim says that Apple is a product company. “Can you make iAd and ‘focus’ work together?” Tim says he hopes the FTC isn’t here. Walt says the chairman of the FTC is in the room. (Awkward silence.)
- Q: “What happened to Ping?” A: “Apple doesn’t have to own a social network… some people think of iMessage as social. You’ll se more things along that in the future.” Walt: “BUT what about Ping?” Tim says he was carefully avoiding that. Tim said the customer voted and said they didn’t want to put a lot of energy into it. He doesn’t know if they should kill it. Kara gets a joke in: “You could totally sell it to Google+.”
- Nick Bilton from the New York Times asks Walt and Kara how the interview went. Walt says he looks forward to reading his thoughts.
That’s it! Check out a replay of the event through our Storify below: