Apple to be more open in future: Tim Cook

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

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.