Apple to be more open in future: Tim Cook

Apple to be more open in future: Tim Cook

Summary: Apple CEO talks taxes, iPhones, and Steve Jobs in wide-ranging interview at D11.

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TOPICS: Apple
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Apple CEO Tim Cook believes that the company's customers want Apple to make the decisions about features in iOS, but that the company would look to open up its API in the future, he revealed in a wide-ranging interview to kick off the D11 conference.

Cook said that Apple believes customers pay the company to make choices on their behalf, but that the closed nature of iOS would be pried open slightly, with third parties being allowed to implement some features in iOS.

With WWDC due in a fortnight, the CEO was unsurprisingly cagey in addressing any new devices or new releases of iOS or OS X to be announced at the event.

In a move that will have the rumour mill running until the conference, Cook dodged the question on whether Apple was planning to announce a multiple iPhone line up.

"We haven't so far. That doesn't shut off the future," said Cook.

Cook discussed the trade-offs made by handset manufacturers to carry screens larger than the iPhone, and said that Apple still believes that the Retina display is the best.

On the topic of iOS, rather than announce a new Jony Ive flat UI-inspired nirvana, Cook cited a range of engagement and customer satisfaction statistics intended to demonstrate how happy the marketplace is with iOS.

One area where the marketplace appears unhappy is in regard to the company's stock price. Cook dismissed worries about Apple's stock price as part of a cycle, and said Apple just focuses on products.

"Our North Star is always on making the best products," he said.

The CEO was equally cagey when it came to discussing his leadership techniques compared to previous Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs. Keeping the culture of Apple was cited by Cook as the most important responsibility of an Apple CEO, but when pressed on leadership styles, said that he and Jobs were different in a ton of ways, though the same when it came to "the most important things".

Apple has been under the pump in recent weeks about its tax structure following Cook's appearance before a US Senate Subcommittee last week.

Cook said that Apple paid US$6 billion in taxes, making it the largest amount paid in the US, and called for comprehensive reform of the tax code — so long as it was revenue neutral.

He denied that Apple had a special deal with the Irish government, saying that he would like to bring offshore profits back into the US, but warned that the concept of a tax regime that involved US companies paying US tax on sales made throughout the world was a worrying one.

In Australia, government MP Ed Husic raised the question of whether Apple misled the Australian parliament after the company appeared before the local IT pricing inquiry.

Turning to wearable technology, and Google Glass in particular, Cook said that it has some positives and would appeal in some vertical markets, but that broad appeal is hard to see.

"There is nothing great out there that I have seen, or will convince a kid who has never worn watches, or a band or glasses to wear one," he said.

"There are lots of things to solve, it's ripe for exploration."

Whether Apple would venture into the realm of wearing computing, Cook said that the area was an important and profound one, but glasses are risky.

"You have to convince people it's so incredible you want to wear it."

As an exercise left to the reader, Cook announced that Apple has acquired nine companies, but would not reveal which companies they were.

Cook downplayed interest in purchasing a social network as Facebook and Twitter are already integrated into Apple OSes.

Topic: Apple

About

Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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8 comments
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  • A slight shade of meaning with Cook's statement that I disagree with.

    "Apple CEO Tim Cook believes that the company's customers want Apple to make the decisions about features in iOS, but that the company would look to open up its API in the future, he revealed in a wide-ranging interview to kick off the D11 conference."

    You know - I think there's a slight shade of meaning here that I disagree with.

    I think users *do* want iOS to be simple, and that *by default* they shouldn't have to futz around; the base OS should work great out of the box.

    But I *don't* think that users are actively hostile to the idea of customization. Many people may not care for customization, but they're not hostile towards those who customize.

    Take, for example, the fact that there's no way in iOS to change the default browser.

    Do most customers not care, and just go with the default regardless? Yeah, and if Apple wants to make Safari the default, that's fine.

    Do some customers want to be able to change the default browser? Yeah - if you're on a restrictive data plan, then you may want to use Opera Mini. Some users may prefer the infinite tabs of Google. It would be nice to be able to change the default browser, even if that means going into some archaic configuration menu that most users will never see.

    Does anybody really *hate* the idea of being able to change the default browser? Uh - no. I have never read in any publication, anywhere, at any time of any user that actually actively disliked the idea of being able to set the default browser to something different. Never heard of such a thing.

    So yes - I do think that opening up more integration APIs for developers and more configuration of integration options for end users would be beneficial to iOS. IMO it's really time for iOS to stop being so inflexible.

    "Turning to wearable technology, and Google Glass in particular, Cook said that it has some positives and would appeal in some vertical markets, but that broad appeal is hard to see."

    I'd agree with Cook.

    Yeah, I know that some ZDNet authors basically worship the things and some even tout them as some sort of "inevitable future" - but there's no actual evidence this is the case. Ultimately, it really is up to the customers to decide if it's the future or if it's a fad. I don't know where some ZDNet authors get this "inevitability" complex from, but it's far from a proven fact that any concept is an inevitable success.

    "Cook downplayed interest in purchasing a social network as Facebook and Twitter are already integrated into Apple OSes."

    Talking about social integration - this is another area where I'd like to see more done. What about LinkedIn, Google+, and other social networks? I'd like to see Apple open up APIs so that any social network can integrate with iOS.

    Integration with third party products is a real weakness in iOS, and I'd really love to see them opening it up more.
    CobraA1
  • Re: Default Browser

    It's all Webkit on iOS and third party 'browsers' have to go through security sandbox which slows things down. The result is Apple doesn't want users to have a poor experience so they don't allow you to change the default browser on stock iOS (yet anyways). Is that a bad thing? A good thing? I think Apple thinks it is trying to save the user from themselves. Think you know better? The easy solution is to jailbreak the device and Apple (curiously) made it fairly easy for those who do to choose your alternative default browser.
    edelbrp
  • Just fascinating

    How many times did he exhale during his dissertation about nothing? Taken as a whole it seems he said- nothing! Since Siri is a person, wouldn't it have been better if "she" had delivered this eulogy?
    pcitizen
  • Demise has already occurred...

    Apple has lost all momentum to Microsoft's mobile freight train. Surface and Windows Phone are just eating market share. Android is not a "real" mobile OS. I have commissioned a study of high powered CIOs like myself and we crave the ability to work on PowerPoint presentations on our phones. While lesser people want to use Facebook and play Words With Friends, I and my executive brethren are out there creating jobs and making the gears of America work using Office. As a celebration of surface, I had a local community college reenact the Surface commercials in our conference room. My rep stood silently in the back of the room, smiling his approval.
    Mike Cox
    • Re: Demise

      LMAO! Thanks for brightening my day!
      rossdav
    • Good the rest of the world is bigger than America

      And we are free to not use PowerPoint on our phones.
      danbi
    • Microsoft Shill...ugh

      Seriously Mike? Microsoft eating up market share with the Surface and Windows phone? What are you smoking? As for doing PowerPoints on your phones...all I can say is that if you are unable to do this type of presentation, I am sure there are grateful corporate audiences everywhere. Re-enacting the Surface commercials? Really? That is ALL Microsoft can do to make its product standout? A choreographed group of dancers slapping a keyboard onto a tablet? Wow... Microsoft must love you...
      john.jay.moore@...
      • Wow... Microsoft must love you...

        john.jay.moore@... You are too funny!
        Reggie S