tim cook at allthingsd

Tim Cook just kicked off AllThingsD‘s D11 conference with an on-stage interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. The conference has become a major event for Apple, with Steve Jobs attending several of them, and Cook now a returning veteran speaker.

And he didn’t disappoint. The CEO was surprisingly candid, answering all kinds of questions from what he thinks of Google Glass, to his thoughts on the state of the TV market. He even confirmed Jony Ive is working on iOS 7. We’ve got a full recap after the break…

On Apple’s ‘Cool’

The first question aimed at Cook had to do with all of the changes that have occurred since his last D appearance. Walt mentioned that Samsung has grown much stronger, and there is a sense on Wall Street that Apple has lost its cool. Cook responded (via The Verge):

“Absolutely not. Let’s zoom out and get perspective. We’re a product company and we think about products. We’ve sold 85 million iPhones. 42 million iPads.

More importantly than the numbers, customers love them. Satisfaction ratings are off the charts — unprecedented. Usage is off the charts. Our share of web usage is 59 percent.

I look at that and say, I feel pretty good about that. I feel pretty good. We came out of December of last year with an unprecedented number of new products.”

And that new products comment worked as a segway into a question about future product plans. Walt says that Apple used to be known as a company that made game-changing products, but hasn’t in a while. The question for Cook was, is it still that company? He responded:

“Yes, we’re still that company. We have some incredible plans that we’ve been working on for a while. We have incredible ideas. The same culture and largely the same people that brought you the iPhone, the iPad mini, the iPod and some who brought you the Mac, the same culture is there. I think we have several more game changers in us. “

On future TV plans

Then television was brought up. Cook said that Apple has now sold over 13 million Apple TVs—nearly half of them in the last year. He explained that the set top box has been a huge learning experience for Apple, but wouldn’t elaborate on future plans. “There is a grand vision” he teased.

Unsurprisingly, the conversation about the iTV gave way into talk about the rumored iWatch. And without hesitation, Kara Swisher asked the CEO “Google Glass, what’s your take on it?” His response was:

“There are some positives in the product. It’s probably likely to appeal to certain vertical markets. The likelihood that it has broad appeals is hard to see.

I think wearables is incredibly interesting. It could be a profound area.”

On wearable gadgets

Cook then pointed to his Nike Fuelband fitness bracelet, which he says he loves (don’t forget, he’s on Nike’s board of directors), but noted that the current selection of wearable smart devices is extremely limited.

“There are lots of gadgets in the space. I would say that the ones that are doing more than one thing, there’s nothing great out there that I’ve seen. Nothing that’s going to convince a kid that’s never worn glasses or a band or a watch or whatever to wear one. At least I haven’t seen it. So there’s lots of things to solve in this space.

It’s an area that’s ripe for exploration, it’s ripe for us to get excited about. Lots of companies will play in this space.”

While he wouldn’t answer a direct question regarding Apple’s plans to enter the wearable computer space, Cook did say that it was a “very important branch of the tree.” He doesn’t seem to like glasses though, and thinks watches are a thing of the past.

“I’m interested in a great product. I wear glasses because I have to. I don’t know a lot of people who wear them because they don’t have to. I think from a mainstream point of view, glasses are risky.

To convince people they have to wear something, it has to be incredible. If we asked a room of 20-year olds to stand up if they’re wearing a watch, I don’t think anyone would stand up.”

On the future of iOS and iPhone

After getting stonewalled on a few more iWatch questions, Walt and Kara moved the conversation to Apple’s plans for the future of its iPhone and iPad. “Let’s talk about the iPad and the iPhone — when are you changing it up?” Obviously, Cook didn’t have a concrete answer.

“What’s new, what’s coming, what’s next, when is it coming. I’m not going to answer those, but we have a developer conference in less than two weeks, and we’ll be rolling out the future of iOS and OS X, and we’re super excited to do that.”

“The new iOS, is that what Jony Ive has been working on?” Walt asked.

“Yes. What we did last fall was change things up — to really ramp up our 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. The magic is at the intersection.

So what we did was amp it up. We recognized that Jony had contributed significantly to the look and feel of Apple over many many years, and he could do that for our software as well.

The whole concept is to tighten the groups even more, so we could spend more time finding magic at the intersection. Now it’s seven months later, and I think it’s been an incredible change.”

As most of you know, rumors have been running rampant in recent weeks that Jony Ive has been leading a major overhaul in iOS 7. There’s also been talk of Apple working on a budget iPhone. Walt wondered why Apple expanded the iPod line, but hasn’t done that with the iPhone yet.

“We haven’t so far. That doesn’t shut out the future. It takes a lot of really hard work to do a phone when you manage the hardware and software and services in it. We’ve put our focused on doing that right. We haven’t been focused on working multiple lines.”

Does that mean Apple is working on larger-screened iPhones as well?

” At a macro level, a large screen today comes with a lot of tradeoffs. When you look 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. There are a bunch of things that are very important. What our customers want is for us to weigh those and come out with a decision. At this point we think the Retina Display is the best.

In a hypothetical world where those tradeoffs didn’t exist, you could see a bigger screen as a differentiator.”

And here’s few video clips from tonight’s interview. I’m sure the full video will be posted soon.

And that was pretty much it for the really exciting stuff. The three of them went on to talk about Apple’s recent dealings with the senate panel over its offshore tax practices, and its stance on ‘opened’ vs. ‘closed.’ And then they wrapped up by fielding questions from the audience

Stay tuned to iDB for more highlights and commentary from tonight’s talk.

  • I’m excited about the new iOS….

  • iOops

    The whole interview seemed a little dry, with nothing new coming to light. Cook seems so evasive and vague answering the questions, it leaves more questions than answers. I still have hopes for iOS7.

    • jilex

      We all have a lot of hopes for iOS 7

    • Micaiah Martin

      Well yeah, with him being evasive means that he doesn’t want to spill the beans on something that is going to be a huge game changer.

    • John

      When have you ever known Tim Cook to come out and give you the full story 100% of the time?
      Come to think of it, when have you ever known Steve to ever spill the beans?

      As Tim said, WWDC is less then two weeks away.
      Why would he say anything now when he knows the world will have all eyes on him* in under two weeks?

      • John

        *and by him, I clearly meant him because he leads the keynote and not because he’s the focal point of Apple.

      • Can’t agree more here; in fact, I was actually going to write the same thing about Jobs.

    • Ricky

      Its making your anticipation increase hahah

  • Just bring awesome device with gorilla glass. I just broke my iPad new gen.

    • Ouch. Expensive….

      EDIT:Maybe Apple will demonstrate their cat-like patent where a device tilts using weights I think it was, in order to always land on its back. On second thoughts I doubt much will materialise from that patent but I can still dream…

      • Or maybe it will sense when it is being dropped and morph into a Caprisun blob and splash on the ground? Slowly come back together and rise back up into your cradling arms. As a heavenly ray of light shines down on you and all of the flowers bloom. Then BAM! Brick wall.

  • 5ingularity

    He talked about when kids and people in general check for time, they pull out their phones due to their portability and accessibility, therefore, unless the rumoured, iWatch contains something really special..as Tim Cook said, it can’t and won’t be a big seller

  • Joseph A. Ahmad

    I know Apple is thinking of something more than just a Nike Fuel Band, a Pebble Smart Watch, or Google Glass. Apple has something up its sleeve, I can feel it. That’s what Tim Cook is alluding to. With iOS 7, I believe what they have done with the intersection of OS X and iOS will correlate between hardware and software. I feel iOS 7 will be more streamlined, smooth, and flat but still retain a vibrant eye-catching design. He has confirmed that Jony Ive is working on it, so I think we’ll all be pretty happy with iOS 7. A little bit of familiar comfort for iOS fans, and a little bit an industrial feel the macbooks have for the minimalistic fans.

  • Jaffarqambar

    So I am frustrating, as far as I understand there is no big screen for the next IPhone

    • iBanks

      You are frustrating or frustrated? 😉

      • Jaffarqambar

        sorry, I am frustrated

  • I still wear a wristwatch while my iPhone remains in my pocket. Saves me about 1 – 5 seconds (especially when I’m seated) each moment I want to determine the day/date/time….

  • Watch the first video to the end.. And the 1h 21min full interview started. WIN!
    Cheers iDB.