Last night, May 29th, AllThingsD held their 10th annual D Conference. While Tim Cook (Apple’s CEO) wasn’t the only interviewee, Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher’s questioning of Apple and Tim Cook in general was arguably the most intriguing. Highlights of the interview include Apple’s upcoming plans to “double down on secrecy…”, the future of Apple TV, which is an area of “intense interest”, hints towards deeper Facebook integration and improvements to their relatively new personal assistant: Siri.
Let’s look at one thing at a time, in order, starting with Cook’s comment regarding secrecy. When asked about what’s changed at Apple since he took over as CEO of the company a short time ago, Tim Cook mentioned that they plan to double down on the secrecy of their products:
We’re going to double down on secrecy on products. I’m serious.
This of course came after the proposed images of the next-generation iPhone’s casing, which many are now suggesting was a controlled leak by Apple themselves to divert attention from yesterday’s Samsung Galaxy S3 launch.
However, while the company plans to maintain a shroud of secrecy when it comes to their products, Cook went on to say that he intends to make Apple as transparent as possible when it comes to topics such as the responsibilities of their suppliers, social changes and their implementations.
Next, in the interview, Cook recapitulated the success of the currently available plug-and-play Apple TV streaming box. He brought to light the fact that they’ve already sold 2.7 million units in the first half of this year – twice the rate of the previous year. Cook also pleasantly mentioned the extreme customer satisfaction level with the third-generation Apple TV and the said the whole TV industry in general is an “interesting area”:
This is an area of intense interest for us. Many of us, the TV that we do watch, is almost exclusively on [the Apple TV]. That’s what my TV watching is. All of my movies, everything is coming through Apple TV.
So, the customer satisfaction with that product is incredible. We’re going to keep pulling this string and see where it takes us. Many people would say “this is an area in their life that they aren’t pleased with.” They might not be pleased with many things about it. The whole TV experience. It’s an interesting area. We’ll have to see what we do. Right now our contribution is Apple TV.
Later, Mossberg was blunt and asked Tim Cook directly, “Are you making a television?”. In response, Cook simply said that he wasn’t going to answer his question and seemed to avoid to topic of Apple’s future role in the home entertainment industry.
But, Cook did provide a general explanation of how Apple typically decides whether or not they plan to enter a specific market:
We would look at this and say can we control the key technology? Can we make a significant contribution beyond what others have made in this area? Can we make a product that we would all want? That’s all thing we would ask about any new product category. It’s the ones we ask about products within families we’re thinking about now.
Finally, Cook hinted towards two upcoming features for their products and customers. The first of which was the possibility of Facebook integration for iOS. It’s no secret that iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch owners have questioned iOS’ lack of Facebook features since deep integration for Twitter was introduced last year with the release of iOS 5.
Furthermore, there’s no doubting that Facebook and Apple haven’t always seen eye-to-eye when it comes to various social aspects, so it was welcomed news when Tim Cook responded to the question of future implementation:
For us, we want to provide customers simple and elegant ways to do the things they want to do. Facebook has hundreds of millions of customers. So, anyone that has an iPhone or iPad, we want them to have the best experience with Facebook on those platforms. So stay tuned.
After the discussion of how Facebook may soon have a major role in the social aspect of iOS, Siri was brought up. When asked about the personal assistant, Cook eagerly responded by touching on how customers “love” the feature on the iPhone 4S and that’s it easily one of the most popular features on the devices (then again, we already knew that from the plethora of Siri-oriented iPhone 4S commercials). He also continues to reveal that Apple has “a lot going on” when it comes to the future of Siri:
But, there’s more that it can do. We have a lot of people working on this. You’ll be really pleased with the things you’ll see over the coming months. The breadth that you’re talking about — we’ve got some cool ideas about what Siri can do. We have a lot going on on this.
Of course, during the interview, there were a number of incredibly interesting topics discussed (e.g. overseas manufacturing, the possibility of Apple products being produced inside the United States, “patent wars” and others) that aren’t listed above. To compensate, the video embedded above is a 17 minute summary published by AllThingsD that includes all key points.
Last night’s D10 conference was the first major interview with Tim Cook since he took over as the CEO of Apple almost one year ago in August. Prior to the conference, it was unknown how Cook would fair in the spotlight and how he’d compare to Steve Jobs’ legendary finesse and eloquence during similar public Q&A sessions. While out of context, but still applicable, Tim Cook had a great response to a related question from Swisher: “I’ve never really viewed that my role was to replace him. I think he’s an irreplaceable person that… Steve was an original. And I don’t think there’s another one of those being made. And so, I’ve never really viewed or felt the weight of trying to be Steve. It’s just not who I am and it’s not my goal in life. I am who I am and I’m focused on that, in being a great CEO of Apple”.
With some great answers from Cook and the beautifully worded quote above regarding Steve, Cook undoubtably reassured the public regarding the direction Apple is headed. As always, stay tuned for complete coverage on Apple, their future products and interviews such as this.