In one of the most far-ranging and longest interviews with Apple CEO Tim Cook since he took over in recent years, Cook touched upon many rumors and issues surrounding the company at the D11 conference yesterday without necessarily revealing much.
Cook hinted that Apple might diversify its iPhone offerings sometime in the future without committing to do so. He cast doubt upon the mass appeal of Google Glass, while at the same time showing interest in wearable computing. He suggested that the iOS operating system may be more open in the future to third-party development via APIs without saying exactly how much tinkering he would allow another company to do with the operating system.
Many industry watchers expect Apple to issue multiple versions of the iPhone at different price points at some point this year, but Cook was noncommittal on the idea. He argued that phones are different from iPods, where he admits different model types found their own niches. As quoted by Apple Insider: "A large screen today comes with a lot of tradeoffs,” he said. “Customers are clearly looking at the size, but they also look at things like do the photos show the proper color? The white balance, the reflectivity, battery life. The longevity of the display." Cook seemed to regard as an open question whether the iPhone market was now large and diverse enough to merit segmenting it by different models.
Cook discussed the executive shakeup that saw the ouster of the lead for iOS development Scott Forstall. He did not go into details about the nature of the upcoming iOS 7 update to iPhones, but he did say that longtime design chief Jony Ive was critical to the process. Cook believes that ultimately, the executive changes will result in Apple accelerating its innovation. "The key in the post-PC era for having a great product is incredible hardware, incredible software, and incredible services, and to combine them so you can't tell what's what,” he said. “The magic is at the intersection."
On the long-rumored possibility of an Apple-branded television, Cook was typically evasive. He did reveal, however, that about 6 million Apple TV boxes had been sold in 2012 alone, for a total of 13 million since its launch. “The popularity has been larger than we thought," he said. "We're not marketing it like we do our other products. So it's encouraging." When asked more directly whether Apple would be involving itself more deeply in the television field Cook did say: “There is a grand vision.”
Cook’s comments come in the wake of what arguably has been one of Apple’s most challenging years. Its stock has taken a beating on Wall Street. Its financial results have not pleased many investors. After a public relations disaster over flaws in its own mobile maps in the iOS 6 release, the company issued a public apology for its own errors. And in general, the company has seen Samsung -- its major smartphone competitor in the market -- gain significant market share and media attention.
In the coming weeks, Apple will be most likely unveil the next version of its operating system and may be revealing more details about its future smartphone strategy. In previous comments, Cook promised that some of the most innovative products would be launched in late 2012 and early 2013.
The full video interview with Tim Cook was published early this morning.