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Tim Cook talks TV, wearable computing, smartphone strategy at D11 conference

Marco Tabini | May 30, 2013
In a wide ranging interview, Apple's CEO discussed the future of TV and the state of corporate taxation in the U.S., and tossed out a few juicy hints about the company's strategy for the future.

Citing Google's Glass specifically, however, Cook pointed out that wearable technology must find its space by catering to consumers in a way that is meaningful to their lives. "I wear glasses because I have to. I don't know a lot of people [who] wear them that don't have to."

In what could be perhaps seen as an oblique reference to the rumored "smart watch" that Apple is reportedly working on, Cook called the wrist "interesting," noting that he owns one of Nike's Fuelband wrist straps, calling it "a nice job." Still, he noted that most young people don't wear a watch, and that any wearable computing product would have to be carefully positioned in order to convince its intended buyers to wear it.

On Apple's smartphone strategy
"It takes a lot of...detail work to do a phone right," Cook said when Mossberg asked why Apple doesn't differentiate the iPhone the way it does with its other product lines, where multiple variants cater to different segments of the population. (Think the multiple iPod models.)

Prompted by Mossberg, Cook agreed that consumers are interested in larger screens, but he also pointed out that such screens come at a cost: "People do look at the size. They also look at things like do the photos show the proper color? The white balance, the reflectivity, battery life."

According to Cook, Apple's strategy is to weigh all the possible alternatives and come up with what it thinks represents the best possible compromise. "What our customers want is for us to weigh those and come out with a decision. At this point we've felt the retina display that we are shipping is overwhelmingly the best."

On governance and policy
Cook reiterated that his company pays all the taxes it owes—$6 billion of it, in fact—and that he saw his recent appearance in front of a panel of U.S. senators to discuss Apple's tax strategies as an opportunity to present his vision for a simpler, more manageable corporate tax code, stating that this quest for simplicity "is how we approach everything."

Noting that Apple's tax return is "two feet high," he said that the Cupertino company doesn't use any tax gimmicks and has no special deal with foreign countries, including Ireland, where its main offshore corporate entity is located. He then added that his ultimate goal is not for the company to pay less tax, but, rather, to receive fair treatment that recognizes the difference between where products are sold and where the subsequent earnings are taxed.

The environment is also becoming an increasingly important area of interest for Apple. Cook announced the hiring former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, who will be tasked with the job of "coordinating a lot of this activity across the company," stating, however, that this move was not motivated by concerns about possible governmental action against Apple's environmental practices, but, instead, by a desire to hold itself to a higher standard of environmental friendliness.

 

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