Apple CEO Tim Cook unequivocally tells PBS' Charlie Rose that the company has no plans to be in the social media business. "We have no plans to be in the social networking area," he tells Rose without hesitation.
The question arose over the course of a two-part interview when Rose asked Cook: "Who is your competition?" To which Cook replied: "Google, clearly."
When Rose prodded Cook further, he essentially balked at the notion that there may be others with an extended period of silence. While many in the technology space consider Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon to be the strongest and most important platforms in existence today, Cook seems to take a different view.
"When I think competitor, I would think of Google," he says, declining to name the other two as an actual threat. "I don't consider Facebook a competitor. I consider Facebook a partner. We're not in the social networking business," he adds.
"We partner with both Facebook and Twitter, and we have integrated both of them into the operating system. So we work closely with both of them so that our customers can get access in a different and unique way to their services. And we like both companies," says Cook.
That strongly worded confirmation clarifies Apple's aspirations, or lack thereof, in social media but also puts one recent and anonymously sourced report into even greater uncertainty.
If Apple plans to acquire the struggling mobile social network Path, as was reported by Pando last week, it would almost certainly be an acqui-hire. Path co-founder and CEO Dave Morin worked in product marketing at Apple for two years before he left in 2006 to take a job at Facebook for the next three-and-a-half years, so it wouldn't be completely random or surprising if he returned to the company with at least some of his team in tow.
Morin declined to comment on the reported acquisition by Apple during an interview at TechCrunch Disrupt the following day, but that's pretty much par for the course in these situations. Rumors of an acquisition by Apple, whether true or not, are virtually guaranteed to drive up the perceived value of Path until the other shoe drops.
During Cook's interview with Rose he reserved his most pointed criticism for the companies (including those he considers partners, apparently) that collect and sell data on their users.
"We've taken a very different view of this than a lot of other companies have. Our view is when we design a new service we try not to collect data. So we're not reading your email, we're not reading your iMessage. If the government laid a subpoena on us to get your iMessages, we can't provide it. It's encrypted and we don't have the key. So the door is closed," he tells Rose.
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