Last night at WSJDLive, The Wall Street Journal’s global technology conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage to discuss everything from the yearly iPhone release cycle to the existence of an Apple car to Apple’s place in the world as a cultural force with the ability to have real influence.
It wasn’t an especially long discussion, but there were plenty of interesting tidbits worth highlighting.
After asking Cook whether Apple wanted to control every part of our lives with its multitude of devices, WSJ editor Gerry Baker began the discussion in earnest with the Apple Watch. When questioned about specific sales figures regarding the wearable, Cook told Baker that the company is “not announcing the numbers” as that “competitive information” could help the competition.
“We shipped a lot the first quarter […] then last quarter we shipped even more. […] And I can predict this quarter we will ship even more,” was as far as Cook was willing to go into the numbers, when pressed.
Moving on from the watch, Baker asked Cook how Apple can speed up innovation of the iPhone.
“We have a pressure to innovate every year,” Cook told him, pointing to some of the biggest changes on board the iPhone 6s. As for whether or not Apple would abandon the “S” cycle of phones, Cook says that the 6s had just as many innovations over the iPhone 6 as the iPhone 6 had over the iPhone 5s.
As for Apple Music, Cook announced that the service has now collected over 6.5 million paid subscribers, with 15 million subscribers in total (more than half of those are still on the free trial). Cook believes that the “human curation” element of the service is what attracts so many users… but I still think it’s probably the three free months.
You’ve already seen the Apple TV news, but in summation, the new Apple TV will go on sale next Monday and Cook sees it as the “foundation” of a new experience. In other words, this isn’t the final form of the Apple TV.
Toward the end of the discussion, Baker brought up what has clearly become Cook’s favorite topic of conversation: Apple’s rumored car. The second that Baker attempted to steer the conversation in that direction, Cook asked him if he’d had “too much to drink.” Clearly Apple is not ready to pull back the curtain quite yet.
So rather than discuss the hardware, Cook focused on software: “When I look at the automobile, what I see is that software becomes an increasingly important part of the car of the future. You see that autonomous driving becomes much more important. It will seem like there will be massive change in that industry.”
The closest Baker got to an answer regarding the car itself was the following quote: “We look at a lot of things. Our model is to reduce that list to a few. We will see what we do in the future. I do think that industry is at an inflection point for massive change, not just evolutionary change.”
Following a detour about retail, Baker and Cook landed on privacy and security.
“We are not making a trade-off with customer experience,” says Cook. “Our view is that you can have both. […] “No one should have to decide privacy or security. We should be smart enough to do both.”
Finally, Baker turned the discussion in the direction of Cook’s well-reported activism. Cook says that Apple focuses on the issues that it has some expertise on, such as human rights and the environment. He believes that companies have a great deal of responsibility when it comes to these issues, especially when “the government isn’t working that well.”
“Our culture is to leave the world better than we found it,” Cook concluded.