What to expect from tomorrow’s Tim Cook talk at D10: All Things Digital

As announced last month, Apple’s head honcho Tim Cook will kick off the Wall Street Journal’s annual technology conference, better known under the D: All Things Digital moniker.

The three-day event begins Tuesday, May 29, and takes place at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

This will be Cook’s first appearance at such a high-profile media even that gathers Silicon Valley celebrities who will join columnists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher on stage for some seriously unscripted hard talk.

Cook’s predecessor, the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, made headline appearances at the conference twice: once in 2007 when he sat down with Bill Gates in what went down in history as an eye-opening exchange between the two tech titans, and the other time in 2010, when Jobs commented on Apple’s war on Flash, let us in on how the iPad and iPhone came to be and touched upon other controversial topics, incuding app rejections and his take on the state of the television industry.

Cook will be the opening-night speaker at D10. Expect Mossberg and Swisher to grill him on tongue-in-cheek topics, the least significant being his vision of post-Jobs Apple. While Cook lacks the energy and charisma of his predecessor, he is in charge now and the media, fans and rivals are sure to pay attention to his every word.

iDB we’ll be on hand, posting the most interesting tidbits right as they happen. Here’s what to expect…

Jessica E. Vascelaro, writing for the Wall Street Journal, sums it up nicely:

It will be a different type of forum for Mr. Cook, who took the job last August and still is showing what kind of CEO he plans to be. The 14-year Apple veteran is no stranger to the stage, having occupied it comfortably as he pitched new products at Apple events. He also has answered questions from investors and analysts at shareholder gatherings.

But the interview by journalists at D10, as the 10th in the series is called, is likely to provide a more wide-ranging view of Mr. Cook’s plans and personality.

Also, this:

The conference is expected to feature a tribute to the Apple co-founder, with participation from his longtime friend Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.

Just don’t expect Mark Zuckerberg to take the stage now that Facebook faces a fallout from its initial public offering. Though, you’ll admit, it would be cool as hell seeing Zuck sweat like a pig again.

But don’t worry, fun is guaranteed as Mossberg and Swisher grill Cook on the subject of labor conditions in Chinese factories, patent fights against Android backers and rumors of Apple distancing from both Samsung and Google amid fierce competition.

And with reports of Facebook poaching Apple’s software and hardware engineers to build a phone, there won’t be any shortage of talking points.

I also wouldn’t rule out questions about Apple’s environmental consciousness, another interesting topic, especially with iCloud being slammed for its reliance on “19th-century coal energy”.

We’re also hungry for juicy details on Apple’s spectacular ring-shaped iSpaceship campus, seen below.

Moreover, Cook could shed more light on Apple’s dividend and share repurchase program, address some privacy concerns and update us on the iPad’s performance.

Just don’t bet on any new revelations concerning that “pipeline full of stuff”  or “mind-blowing” new products because Apple is not fond of leaks, even if they came from its supreme commander.

Oh, and let’s see how Cook dodges the inevitable television set talk.

Apple’s boss has surely had a pretty hectic schedule this year.

He toured China in March and opened a new Foxconn factory in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou.

A month later, the executive found time for a friendly chit-chat with Ferrari CEO and earlier this month he attended court-mediated talks with his peers at Samsung over an ongoing legal spat, to no avail.

Last Tuesday, Cook flew to Washington for a handful of meetings with Congressional leaders, yet another indication that he intends on stamping his own leadership style on Apple in other ways as well.

The one place Cook, 51 years old now, didn’t visit?

Valve’s headquarters, of course.

As a reminder, here’s Jobs dissing Flash at the D8 conference in 2010.


It’ll be tough topping that epic talk, that’s for sure.

This years conference, entitled D10: All Things Digital, will feature a number of technology celebrities, including Oracle founder and CEO Larry Ellison, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios president Dr. Ed Catmull, as well as a couple surprising appearances, including screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, recently commissioned to turn Walter Isaacson bio book on Steve Jobs into screenplay for Sony’s upcoming Jobs flick.

Go here for the full line-up of speakers.

So, what would you ask Tim Cook if you were Walt Mossberg (or Kara Swisher, for that matter)?