The year in review
Before taking questions, Apple CEO Tim Cook spent some time reflecting on the previous year, noting that this was the first shareholder meeting since the passing of company founder and former CEO Steve Jobs. Thanking those in attendance for their support and condolences, Cook explained that Jobs's death had an effect on everyone in the company, but that "sometime in the days after, that sadness turned into a determination to continue the journey" Jobs started.
Cook then reeled off the now-familiar litany of Apple's 2011 successes, calling it "mind-boggling that it happened in one year":
- New iPhones: "Siri is a word that's now recognized in almost every country in the world."
- New iPads: "I can't imagine my life without [the iPad]...it's the most fabulous device I've ever had."
- New Macs: Three new model lines represented "constant innovation in the Mac space. The #1 best-selling PC last quarter was the MacBook Pro."
- A new version of iOS: "The developer base grew even larger. There are now over 550,000 apps--Apple has become a jobs platform."
- A new version of OS X: "and just seven months later, we're previewing Mountain Lion." (Note to everyone: Cook called it "the Mac OS.")
- The iPod: Still over 70 percent of the market in the U.S., with nearly that in some other countries.
- The iTunes Store: "We're very close to 25 billion downloads. It's hard to intellectually comprehend that number."
- Retail stores: Now over 360 stores around the world, and 110 million people visited them in the previous quarter. "We used to think Macworld [Expo] was fantastic when 50,000 came." Cook also told attendees that if they haven't seen the new Grand Central Station Store, "seeing it will make you proud to be an Apple Shareholder."
- Revenue: $108 billion in revenue in 2011, $43 billion more than the year before. "That growth is more than the growth of HP, Dell, Nokia, HTC, Google, and RIM combined--it's really mind-blowing."
Cook ended the summary with a few words of gratitude: "For all of those who believed in us and stuck with us over the years, I thank you. Thank you very much."
For many shareholders, the highlight of the annual meeting is the question-and-answer period, where anyone can line up for a chance to ask a question of the management team--it's one of the rare opportunities to see Apple executives interact publicly with people other than financial analysts. Though some people worried that protests, spurred by the controversy over working conditions at Apple's China-based suppliers, might disrupt the morning's proceedings, the roughly 25 protestors who showed up were limited to the public sidewalks at the entrance to the Cupertino campus. And inside the meeting, none of the questioners even mentioned Foxconn or factories, even in the context of how the controversy might affect the company's financials.
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