Tag Archives: Tim Cook

Steve Jobs lauded by Apple execs on fourth anniversary of his death

CEO Tim Cook, iTunes head Eddy Cue and others remember Apple’s co-founder in messages posted to the company’s internal site. One recalls the time Jobs mooned Al Gore.

 Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died four years ago today. To mark the anniversary, CEO Tim Cook and other Apple executives paid tribute to the man and his legacy.

In an email sent Monday to Apple employees, Cook remembered Jobs both as a family man and the force behind the company and its popular products. Cook said Jobs “loved his family above all, he loved Apple and he loved the people with whom he worked so closely and achieved so much.”

Cook and other people who worked with Jobs also posted messages to Apple’s internal website. The messages, viewed by CNET, are excerpted below.

The anniversary comes as a new movie about Jobs is set to open in limited release on Friday and more widely later this month. The film, titled simply “Steve Jobs,” has been poorly received by Jobs’ widow and by some of his former colleagues.

Laurene Powell Jobs has reportedly attempted to block the film. She called on Sony Pictures and Universal Pictures, which developed the script and produced the film, respectively, to stop the picture, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

Written by Aaron Sorkin, the film is based on Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography of Jobs.

“She refused to discuss anything in Aaron’s script that bothered her despite my repeated entreaties,” producer Scott Rudin told the Journal. She also, he said, “continued to say how much she disliked the book, and that any movie based on the book could not possibly be accurate.”

In mid-September, Cook was asked about the new film by “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert. The Apple CEO said, “I think a lot of people are trying to be opportunistic and I hate this.”

Jobs died October 5, 2011, at the age of 56 of respiratory arrest following a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He has remained in the public eye through books and films that attempt to portray his life, career and personality. Jobs was a controversial figure. His efforts paved the way for products like the iMac and the iPhone, but his sense of perfectionism was said to have caused him to lash out at employees and others who didn’t live up to his standards.

Excerpt from Cook’s post on Apple’s intranet

Cook’s message Monday lauded Jobs for “small acts of friendship,” like stopping by Cook’s office almost every day before heading home or putting friends above himself. Cook shared a memory from 2009 when Jobs took a leave of absence from Apple to deal with his liver troubles.

In February of 2009, Steve was on a leave of absence from Apple and spending his time at his home. I would drop by after work and discuss many things with him. He was waiting for a liver transplant and his health seemed to be rapidly deteriorating. One day in particular, he seemed especially ill and I left feeling so distraught that I threw up in his yard.

I was worried he would not live long enough to reach the top of the waiting list for a cadaver liver. After checking out my own health and researching donor liver transplants, I visited Steve again and told him I wanted to give him a portion of my liver. Despite his condition and the uncertainty of whether he would live long enough to be at the top of the waiting list, he adamantly refused to accept my offer for fear it would place my own health in jeopardy.

That was the kind of person he was. He was unselfish in the face of his own mortality. Even when his outlook was bleak and he had every right to accept help, he refused, rather than put a friend’s health at risk. He put his compassion for me above his own needs, and I will never forget it.

Cook has shared similar tributes about Jobs over the years, as have Jobs’ other colleagues.

Andrea Jung, Apple board member

Andrea Jung, who is also CEO of Grameen America, a New York-based nonprofit microfinance organization, on Monday remembered Jobs as “being down to earth and good on his word.”

As a CEO, you have good days and bad days, and I remember I had a bad press day. Steve was a true friend — he called me on the phone and said, “Just ignore it. It’s hard but I’ve learned to. If you don’t fail, you’re not trying. Some of the world’s biggest successes come from learning from mistakes. Keep moving forward.” He was thoughtful and caring. That’s the Steve I knew. Those little touches.

Eddy Cue, senior VP of Internet software and services

Eddy Cue, who runs iTunes and Apple Pay, wrote that Jobs felt more like a family member than a boss.

Working with him, I always felt that there was a personal connection. It wasn’t just work. And in a way, sometimes he was a brother; sometimes he was a father figure, depending on what it was. But it was a family member nonetheless. And it was somebody you didn’t want to disappoint. I’ve never felt that way about anybody else that I’ve worked with. You feel that way about your family. You don’t want to disappoint your dad, you may not want to disappoint your brother or your kids or your wife. But you generally don’t feel that way about your boss, per se. There was a different feeling. He had that. He created that. And I think that’s part of the personal touch of the relationship that at least I felt I had with him around it.

Phil Schiller, head of marketing

Phil Schiller, the longest-serving member of Apple’s executive team, talked about Jobs’ sense of humor and an incident with Al Gore, the former US vice president and one of Apple’s board members.

Steve also had a great sense of humor. We would screw around all of the time. In 2003, we were working on a keynote demo of video conferencing with iChat on the Mac, and Al Gore was gracious enough during his busy schedule to make time to do the demo remotely with us. We were rehearsing the day before the keynote and Al is up on the giant 35-foot screen, and Steve in front of the Mac, and they were going back and forth discussing about what they were going to talk about. Al and Steve start joking a little bit, and as a comeback to something Al said, Steve turned around and mooned Al. He literally dropped his pants. Now, it was PG — he had his boxers on — but he mooned Al. All of us working on it were just dying.

Bud Tribble, original Mac team member

Bud Tribble, one of the original members of the Mac design team, remembered how Jobs and Apple were different from other companies in Silicon Valley.

Steve was not a lecturer. If he really wanted to impart or teach you something, he would show you. In 1981, just when the original Mac team had formed – there were maybe a dozen people – we were still trying to figure out what we were building. What should it be? What should it do? What should it look like? And Steve came in one day and said, “We’re going to go on a field trip.” And we all thought it would be some team-building exercise. Then he said, “We’re going to San Francisco to the de Young museum. They have a Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibit and we’re going to just spend the whole day there, looking at what this guy did.”

It turned out to be an incredibly good lesson and it set the tone for the Mac group. The electric light had been invented and Thomas Edison wanted to have not just a burning bulb, but a beautiful thing. He convinced Tiffany, an artist, to make lamps. Tiffany used glass and chemistry and metallurgy to build art that was very useful to control light.

I think it was very illustrative of how Steve interacted with his teams and the people who were working for him. And it was an example of art meets technology, and probably one of the first times I saw that from Steve. Just this burning feeling he had – that was so different from what you found in the Valley, you know? Everything was bits and bytes and how fast it was and how much silicon and how many computations can it do. And here was Steve saying, “We’re building something, but it’s equally if not more important that it be an artistic act of creation.” Because these computers we’re making are going to be part of our environment, and if we didn’t pay attention to the aesthetics and the artistic nature of what we were doing, then who would? It would end up like the ugly bare bulb burning at the end of the wire.

I spent a lot of time with Steve. He was one of a kind. Really for the world to understand the impact of Steve on the world we live in, it’s going to require a lot more time and perspective.

Cook’s full message to employees

Here’s the full text from Cook’s message to employees.

Team,

Today marks four years since Steve passed away. On that day, the world lost a visionary. We at Apple lost a leader, a mentor, and many of us lost a dear friend.

Steve was a brilliant person, and his priorities were very simple. He loved his family above all, he loved Apple, and he loved the people with whom he worked so closely and achieved so much.

Each year since his passing, I have reminded everyone in the Apple community that we share the privilege and responsibility of continuing the work Steve loved so much.

What is his legacy? I see it all around us: An incredible team that embodies his spirit of innovation and creativity. The greatest products on earth, beloved by customers and empowering hundreds of millions of people around the world. Soaring achievements in technology and architecture. Experiences of surprise and delight. A company that only he could have built. A company with an intense determination to change the world for the better.

And, of course, the joy he brought his loved ones.

He told me several times in his final years that he hoped to live long enough to see some of the milestones in his children’s lives. I was in his office over the summer with Laurene and their youngest daughter. Messages and drawings from his kids to their father are still there on Steve’s whiteboard.

If you never knew Steve, you probably work with someone who did or who was here when he led Apple. Please stop one of us today and ask what he was really like. Several of us have posted our personal remembrances on AppleWeb, and I encourage you to read them.

Thank you for honoring Steve by continuing the work he started, and for remembering both who he was and what he stood for.

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Tim Cook: Apple’s push into business technology is not a hobby

Apple chief executive Tim Cook says there is room for his company to grow into supplying the business sector

Apple is accelerating its push into business technology as it seeks ways to continue its astonishing growth, according to chief executive Tim Cook.

Businesses accounted for $25bn of Apple’s $200bn sales in the year to the end of June, but Mr Cook said the company was aiming to play a bigger role in the corporate IT industry.

He said: “This is not a hobby. This is a real business.”

In a sign of the determination to serve more corporate customers, he delivered the message at a third-party event, BoxWorks, run by the online collaboration service Box. It was an unusual move for Apple, which as a consumer brand exercises famously tight control over its public face.

Mr Cook said he believed there was large scope for Apple to grow as the smartphone revolution unleashed by the iPhone begins to spark fundamental changes in how businesses operate.

“People aren’t going to gain productivity by working more hours,” he said. “We’re all working flat out. So you have to transform your business.”

“When you look at the penetration of mobile in enterprise, it’s shocking how low it is, and then when you look at what people are doing with it, it’s shocking how many people haven’t gone beyond emails and browsing and these kinds of things,” he said.

“I’m not sure anyone at this point that I’ve seen, including ourselves, deserves a really high grade compared to the opportunity that’s there.”

Under Mr Cook, Apple has latterly been seeking to bury the hatchet with old industry foes to help it crack the enterprise market. Last year it signed a major development and distribution partnership with IBM and at this month’slaunch of the new iPad Pro even invited Microsoft on stage to demonstrate its Office software.

Mr Cook said: “Just as in the consumer area, where we have built an ecosystem that has so many apps… we needed that expertise on the enterprise side, so we partnered with people to do that.”

The iPhone is increasingly emerging as the dominant smartphone for corporate IT departments, as the decline of BlackBerry continues. Manufacturers such as Samsung, which use Google’s popular Android operating system, have meanwhile struggled to gain a foothold in businesses, partly due to the array of versions of the software that are in use.

While Apple has built bridges with IBM and Microsoft, Google has emerged as its main rival in the technology industry.

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Apple’s Tim Cook defends Steve Jobs in light of negative film portrayals

Apple CEO Tim Cook says predecessor Steve Jobs was “an amazing human being” on Late Night with Stephen Colbert

Apple chief executive Tim Cook defended his predecessor Steve Jobs on Tuesday night in light of negative film portrayals of Jobs.

In a television interview on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Mr Cook said he had not seen the films in question but that such portrayals of Jobswere “opportunistic”.

“The Steve I knew was an amazing human being. He’s someone that you wanted to do your best work,” Mr Cook said. “He had this uncanny ability to see around the corner and describe a future – not an evolutionary future but a revolutionary future.”

Mr Cook took over as Apple’s CEO in 2011 in the finals months of Jobs’s life, and worked under him for 13 years as a senior executive.

“He was a joy to work with and I love him dearly, I miss him every day,” Cook said in Wednesday’s interview. “I think that a lot of people are trying to be opportunistic and I hate that, it’s not a great part of our world.”

Steve Jobs constructed an organisation that revolutionised electronics but was also by many accounts unpleasant to work for

The films alluded to during the interview were Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, a documentary released earlier this month, and an upcoming biopic directed by Danny Boyle and titled simply Steve Jobs.

Jobs is portrayed as “ruthless, canny, and tenacious” in The Man in the Machine, according to the New York Times. A trailer for Steve Jobs shows Michael Fassbender as Jobs, lashing out at his colleagues and family.

Later in the interview Mr Cook discussed his decision to come out as gay last fall, saying he felt a “tremendous responsibility to do it”.

“It became so clear to me that kids are being bullied in school, kids were getting basically discriminated against, kids were even being disclaimed by their own parents and that I needed to do something,” he said.

“Where I valued my privacy significantly, I felt that I was valuing it too far above what I could do for other people. And so I wanted to tell everyone my truth.”

Mr Cook compared people’s reactions to his announcement to “discovering something your iPhone has always done but you didn’t quite know it.”

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Apple’s Tim Cook finally steps out of Steve Jobs’ shadow

Apple came under fire on social media for introducing a souped up stylus, which Steve Jobs openly hated. But Tim Cook is unperturbed – he is building his own legacy.

When Apple revealed its new, giant iPad Pro with a special accessory called Apple Pencil yesterday, the crowd in the San Francisco audibly tittered. The reason? The $99 ($65) accessory is not a revolutionary new invention – it’s just a fancy stylus, an electronic pointer abhorred by Apple’s former, much-loved chief executive Steve Jobs.

The joke traces back to 2007 at the original iPhone’s reveal, when Jobs famously said, “Who wants a stylus? You have to get them, put them away. You lose them. Yuck. Nobody wants a stylus.”

Fast forward eight years, and it turns out Apple does want a stylus after all.

Of course, the new Apple Pencil appears to be an advanced, slick descendant of the one that was shipped with phones like the Palm Treo 700p back in 2006. But it’s also the symbol of a new era.

It shows Apple chief executive Tim Cook’s willingness to break the hard rules set down by Apple’s opinionated founder – and finally emerge from Jobs’ shadow.

During Apple’s product launch event, Cook announced a slew of new products, with a mix of marginal and radical improvements on their predecessors. The iPhones 6s and 6s Plus come in large screen sizes of 4.7-inches and 5.5-inches respectively, and have a high-resolution 12-megapixel camera.

The massive 12.9-inch iPad Pro is Apple’s bid for the enterprise workplace – and they showed they meant business by bringing on-stage Microsoft’s Kirk Koenigsbauer, Vice President of MS Office to demonstrate how Apple’s rival is using the Pencil as a productivity tool.

And finally the new Apple TV allows developers to create entertainment and gaming apps, and will allegedly have a television streaming subscription service launching in 2016.

Jobs famously objected to all three: large phones, Microsoft and subscription media services. Yet, Cook has shown the confidence to disregard, and overrule these historic oppositions, making him a leader in his own right. He is no longer just the custodian of a legacy, but is actively building his own. And if it pays off, he will take over your workplace and your living room, while continuing to make the most profitable products on the planet.

Apple CEO Tim Cook meets staff at the company's Covent Garden store in central LondonApple CEO Tim Cook meets staff at the company’s Covent Garden store in central London  Photo: Kensington Leverne

The new products announced this week aren’t the first time Cook has strayed from the party line. In March, he unveiled the Apple Watch, the first completely new device created under his leadership – and designed without the input of Jobs.

Similarly, he released the 7.9-inch iPad mini in 2012, despite Jobs’ derision for small tablets, and paid $3 billion to acquire headphone maker Beats – an affront to Jobs’ view that building innovation was far better than buying it.

We can’t say yet how these new bets will play out – whether people will start buying (and wearing) Apple Watches, subscribing to Apple Music or paying with Apple Pay. But it signifies that Apple has moved forward and continues to experiment, rather than simply cultivating its existing, highly profitable range of products.

In a mirror scenario, Microsoft’s new chief executive Satya Nadella faced similar challenges when Steve Ballmer ended his decade-long tenure, and Bill Gates stepped down from his position as chairman in 2014.

People had moved on from primarily using computers to conducting business on their mobiles, powered mostly by Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android software. So Nadella repositioned Microsoft as a cloud business. He has made Office software available on Apple- and Google-powered phones. He brokered new partnerships with former rivals, resulting in unlikely collaborations like the recent Office and iPad Pro example.

And he’s coming into his own, just like his counterpart Cook.

Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the new iPad Pro during an Apple media event in San Francisco, CaliforniaCook shows off the new iPad Pro, which comes with the controversial Apple Pencil, a souped up stylus  Photo: Reuters

In fact, it’s clear that Cook’s Apple is financially healthy. Its stock rose from a split-adjusted $54 to $110 since Jobs died, resulting in a market capitalisation north of $600 billion. Apple has continued to grow its dominance in the high-end smartphone space, especially in China – its second largest market – where it reportedly sold $38 billion of merchandise in 2014.

Cook announced during the event on Wednesday that Apple’s iPhone market grew 75 percent in China year over year, allaying fears about negative effects of the severe downturn in the Chinese economy.

So the big difference between the larger-than-life Jobs and the more human Cook then is that Cook isn’t wedded to a higher vision – he seems able to hear what customers are asking for, and make those products available. In fact, screen sizes of the 4.7 inch and 5.5 inch iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus last year were driven by public demand, and their runaway success finally proved Jobs and Apple purists wrong.

So maybe the Apple Pencil isn’t anathema after all – Jobs couldn’t have envisioned the giant sheet of responsive glass that could be used for everything from a 3D surgical aid to a graphic designer’s dynamic sketchpad. The ‘stylus’ acts almost like a real pencil – it can draw thicker lines with greater applied pressure and responds to gestures, like shading when you tilt or drawing lines when you drag it across the screen. These aren’t features that your finger could replicate.

Of course, the stylus wasn’t invented by Apple. There’s a stereotype that Apple often takes existing products and rebrands them as revolutionary, and it exists for a reason. Samsung shipped a stylus with its ultra-large Galaxy Note smartphone line for years, and the Microsoft business-friendly Surface Pro tablet looks awfully familiar.

But the truth is, Apple does somehow get people to eagerly adopt its new products, and inspires fierce loyalty like no other brand.

At a memorial tribute for Jobs in 2011, Cook shared some advice he had received from Jobs before he died. “Among his last advice he had for me was to never ask what he would do. ‘Just do what’s right,’” Cook said. It’s time for the rest of us to let go too, and stop asking, “What would Jobs do?”

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For Apple, more success raises more questions

Apple posted quarterly results on Tuesday that virtually any other company would kill for. Yet CEO Tim Cook still found himself on the defensive.

By virtually any measure, Apple posted solid financial results. But for the investors who follow the company, solid just isn’t good enough.

Apple’s third quarter is typically its slowest. It’s sandwiched between the Dad-and-grad shopping season, and the back-to-school and iPhone launch. Yet Apple on Tuesday posted a quarter that most of its rivals would be ecstatic to report. Its revenue was a third higher than the same period last year. It sold 47.5 million iPhones, 35 percent more than a year ago. Sales in China more than doubled. And Apple said it would generate $49 billion to $51 billion in revenue in the current quarter.

Then Apple’s shares dropped 6.9 percent to $121.80 in after-hours trading, wiping away roughly $52 billion in market value. Today, it’s down 5 percent to $124.16.

So what happened? That third-quarter revenue was only just in line with expectations, not much higher. And iPhone sales were about 2 million short of what Wall Street anticipated. Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged that China, while a huge market for Apple, could see some “speed bumps” because of economic woes. Its fourth-quarter forecast looked a little light too.

Welcome to the world of Wall Street, a.k.a. the game of heightened expectations. Apple, by far the world’s most valuable company, plays by a different set of rules, one where investors aren’t impressed unless they see a blow-out quarter — every quarter. Instead of taking a victory lap, Apple CEO Tim Cook found himself on the defensive during the company’s quarterly conference call with investors.

“We did exceptionally well in any way that you look at it,” Cook said on the call. “From our point of view the iPhone is doing outstanding.”

For Apple — which also happens to have $203 billion in cash — more success leads to more questions. Sure, Apple posted a record third quarter. What happens to iPhone demand in the long term? How many Apple Watches did people buy? Is China slowing down?

It also means more ways to disappoint, well, just about everyone.

“In a vacuum, Apple’s results were good,” Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um said. “However, relative to expectations, results and guidance were disappointing, particularly with respect to iPhone units.”

In some ways, it’s a victim of its predictability. Everyone knows it will release its next iPhone in September, even if Apple hasn’t confirmed it. And everyone knows the next device won’t feature drastic changes like those in the iPhone 6. Because of that predictability, consumers who need new smartphones know to hold out for a few months for the new model — or at least for the older models to get cheaper.

In Apple’s first quarter last year, its first full period of iPhone 6 sales, the company sold 74.5 million iPhones — more than it has in a single quarter ever before. The question now becomes whether it can do it again with a device that incorporates mostly incremental changes, not something like bigger screens.

Earlier Tuesday, Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo hinted at the next “iconic device” (his codename for the iPhone), and said he didn’t expect volumes to be as dramatic as last year because of the lack of significant changes.

And if the Chinese economic speed bumps end up more like road blocks, Apple’s smartphone sales are sure to suffer. The region became the company’s biggest iPhone market in the March quarter.

“Following the China smartphone slowdown and PC weakness, iPhone was the only major bright spot driving tech demand this year,” Jefferies analyst Ken Hui said. “With the last leg also getting shaky,” he’s feeling cautious about the Chinese tech market.

Cook tried to give other reasons to be bullish about the iPhone. He noted that only 27 percent of the iPhone base has upgraded to the latest model, giving it room to grow. And he noted that the rate of people switching from Android is at its highest level.

Then there’s the Apple Watch. Even though Cook spent a lot of time talking up his happiness with Watch sales, he still didn’t give any actual sales figures. Contrast that with 2010, when Apple touted early sales for the iPad — its last new device in a new category — four times within the tablet’s first three months on the market. Apple says it’s keeping Apple Watch sales figures a secret to protect it from rivals, but low sales levels likely also play a role.

Analysts commented that people likely didn’t buy as many as they had anticipated. BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk and PiperJaffray analyst Gene Munster both believe Apple sold 2.5 million Apple Watches in the quarter — below average projection for 4 million. And they’re also cutting their estimates for later periods.

“Tim Cook indicated on the call that sales ramped throughout the quarter, but we decided to cut our September estimate to 5 million watches sold from 8.9 million and our December quarter estimate to 10 million from 13.9 million,” Piecyk said.

But for Apple, it still all goes back to the iPhone. If it had sold millions more than analysts expected, the stock would be moving in a much different direction.

Cook on Tuesday largely pooh-poohed the worries about iPhone sales. “We think the phone has a lot of legs to it,” he said on the call with analysts. “Many, many, many years. There’s ton of innovation left in the phone. I think we’re in the early innings of it, not in the late innings.”

He better hope so.

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Tim Cook on Apple Watch: Fighting the ‘New Cancer’

The Apple Watch may be the most eagerly anticipated gadget of the year, but it also has a lot of doubters, who say the $350 device is too pricey or that the design is clunkier than the Moto 360. Or the critics may just be down on the smartwatch category altogether.

But, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the Apple Watch possesses several unique strengths, including a variety of designs, Siri integration and, yes, the ability to fight “the new cancer”: sitting. Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference yesterday (Feb. 10) in San Francisco, Apple CEO Tim Cook likened today’s smartwatches to early MP3 players before the iPod came along.

“We weren’t the first company to make an MP3,” Cook said. “They were fundamentally too hard to use, and the user interface was really bad.”

MORE: Best Smartwatches on the Market Now

Cook was clearly drawing parallels to today’s smartwatches. Android Wear devices, for example, involve a fair amount of swiping to get things done. The Pebble Watch, which uses a somewhat awkward button-based interface, is now on more than a million wrists, but that doesn’t impress Cook.

“There are several things that are called ‘smartwatches’ that are shipping,” he said, “but I’m not sure you could name any.”

So how does Apple plan to shake up the market? By “changing the way you live your life,” according to Cook. And that could include saving it. Apple’s CEO told conference attendees that the Apple Watch will give you a little tap 10 minutes before the hour if you haven’t moved within the hour. Why?

“Because a lot of doctors believe that sitting is the new cancer, right?” Cook said.

Apple’s CEO said a lot of his employees who use the watch are now standing up and moving around at 10 minutes before the hour. In addition,  the Apple Watch has the ability to track your activity and exercise. But that’s not all the Apple Watch will do for health.

Dexcom’s upcoming Apple Watch app, for instance, will be able to help diabetes patients report glucose levels on a graph by working with a tiny monitor that’s inserted under the skin. The app has already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Cook believes that, just like the iPhone, the app selection for the Apple Watch will be a huge differentiator to separate Apple’s offering from those of its competitors.

“The things third parties are working on? — I’m super excited about,” Cook shared. “Just like when the App Store came out, and you remember the tagline, ‘There’s an app for that?’ And the way you felt with your favorite apps, and so you’re going to have a feeling like that.”

It’s not as if other smartwatch platforms are standing still. At last count, there were nearly 200 Android Wear apps in the Google Play store, 4,200 Pebble apps and watchfaces and more than 1,000 Tizen-based apps.

With Google I/O coming up in May, we expect to see many more enhancements for the Android Wear platform in general, as well as new designs to battle the Apple Watch. Pebble, too, has promised new hardware and software for this year.

However, Cook seems confident that the Apple Watch will rise above the competition, and will be much more than a novelty.

“There’s just an enormous number of things that it will do,” Cook said, “and I think you’re going to find it something that you’re going to think, ‘Wow, I can’t live without this anymore!'”

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Why Apple’s 2014 won’t be like 2013

It’s not just about the next hit product. Apple is preparing for a future beyond phones, tablets, watches and TVs, in which it’s the premium brand for life in a fully digital age.

Hundreds of people await the iPhone 5S and 5C launch at Apple's Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan.

As 2013 draws to a close, Tim Cook is feeling good. The holiday quarter once again proved that Apple’s products and stores can draw a crowd. Pent-up demand for new iPhones and iPads was satisfied once again, and Apple’s reputation as a purveyor of objects of desire was reaffirmed. As a reward, Apple’ stock price hit a 52-week high this month.

Apple’s precision-engineered, meticulously designed, mass-produced objects of desire are not the most advanced or clever computing machines. Many Android devices are tricked out with more pixels and features. Nor is Apple the undisputed market share leader, which is not the company’s first priority.

After its initial breakthrough product and domination of the market, Apple cedes share to followers and carves out a highly profitable niche. Like BMW in the automotive industry, Apple is not trying to blanket the market. The Android platform now maintains the majority market share by far, especially outside the US, but for contestants other than Samsung the profits are slim or none. And, Apple’s mobile platform, iOS, accounts for more than 50 percent of mobile Internet usage, according to Net Market Share research.

In the coming year, Apple will continue its wash, rinse, repeat cycle, incrementally refreshing the iPads, iPhones, and Macs with more speed, less weight, longer battery life, additional sensors, and improved apps.

There are also hints that 2014 won’t be another year of just incremental improvements like 2013. Apple could reveal something more dramatic and groundbreaking than adding a fingerprint sensor to an iPad or delivering iPhones and iPads with bigger screens and better cameras, or finally shipping the powerful R2-D2- looking Mac Pro.

 

It’s been four years since the company’s last market-defining product, the iPad, was unveiled. Here’s what Steve Jobs said at the time: “iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price. iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”

Apple is rumored to be working on several products that could be eventually pitched as the “most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price.” According to reports, Apple has in excess of 100 people working on an “iWatch.” The company has trademarked the iWatch name around the world, and has filed 79 patents containing the word “wrist.”

Following its usual product strategy, Apple isn’t rushing to market to join the pack. Pebble, Samsung, Sony, ZTE, Martian Fitbit, Basis, Neptune, Metawatch, Qualcomm already have wrist wearables in the market, and LG, Google, and even Dell might be working on similar products. No one so far has a hit product. Apple hopes that an iWatch can follow the same pattern as the iPod, iPhone and iPad — not the first in its category, but the one that redefines a market and dominates it for the first phase of adoption.

That will be a far more difficult challenge than in the past with all the innovative startups chasing the dream. And, the bar is set much higher for Apple.

It may be that an iWatch will focus on a few apps, such as health and fitness, and serve as more of an accessory to the iPhone. You don’t have to take it out of your pocket to browse alerts and other information or talk to Siri. An iWatch with a beautifully curved, sapphire touch screen and sleek band would be more fashion statement than game-changing product.

In fact, Apple is on a mission to become more fashion forward. The company added two major fashion industry icons to its executive ranks. Former Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve joined as a vice president to work on “special projects,” and Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts was tapped to lead retail operations, managing the online store and more than 520 brick-and-mortar outlets.

That enhanced fashion IQ could be applied to a range of entertainment products, another area that Apple wants to transform. The company could launch a stylish, large-screen 4K TV with Apple TV built-in or a set-top box this year, accompanied by apps that plug into iOS ecosystem and take the pain out of managing and controlling what’s on the screen or in the box.

Apple is also working with automobile companies to integrate features like Siri, Apple Maps, and iTunes into the built-in displays of cars.

And, don’t be surprised is you start hearing rumblings about eyewear from Apple. The company has many patents for head-mounted displays and other technologies relevant to augmenting-reality devices like the Oculus Rift and Google Glass. Apple will play the tortoise to Google’s hare, watching the landscape evolve and taking its time to create a more perfect device that will attract tens of millions of buyers.

What’s becoming clear is that Apple isn’t just focused on trying to create another hit product. The company has long been preparing for a future in which technology is deeply woven into the fabric of everyday life. It’s about creating an experience and brand that represents the best of the digital future.

iPhones, tablets, watches, glasses, TVs, sensors, robots, and cars are vehicles for enabling Apple’s software and services to flourish. It’s about becoming the premium brand for living in a fully digital age, in which billions of people and tens of billions of objects gathering and sending signals are connected.

What might be dubbed “Apple Everywhere” is a continuation of Steve Jobs’ goal to reshape how masses of humans use and interact with technology. “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, humanities that yields us the result that makes our heart sing. And nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices,” Jobs said during the unveiling of the iPad 2 in March 2011.

In a recent promo video, Apple described its product development ethos:

This is it. This is what matters. The experience of a product. How will it make someone feel? Will it make life better? Does it deserve to exist? We spend a lot of time on a few great things…until every idea we touch…enhances each life it touches. You may rarely look at it…but you’ll always feel it. This is our signature…and it means everything.

The words uttered in a sonorous voice are by far too contrived and precious, but of all the tech companies Apple invests the most in the overall product experience, creating an emotional connection between its brand and customers.

Jobs was also fond of a quote from hockey great Wayne Gretzky. “There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple. Since the very very beginning. And we always will,” he said at the Macworld Conference in January 2007.

Now the technology puck is rapidly careening toward deeply personalized and wearable computing. With its growing retail presence and the increasing population of always connected people, Apple is combining its roots in humanizing technology — making it more personal and invisible — with a more acute sense of fashion to lure the discriminating, less price-sensitive buyers and those who aspire to be part of the club.

In the future Apple world of iBeacons and ambient intelligence, your fashionable wearable wrist device, eyewear, phone, tablet, TV, car interface, and clothing could be used to control your thermostat, lights, DVR, car, heart monitor, payments, music, movies or anything that connects into the global network. You tell your iPhone, iPad, iWatch, iGlass3D or iLens, “Ok Siri, unlock my car door, drive me home, turn the thermostat down to 62, record the news, turn on the oven to 375 degrees and tell my mother I will call her back tomorrow.” Or you project a virtual control pad in front of you and use hand gestures to reset the thermostat or open your car the door as you approach it.

Apple isn’t the only company trying to become the operating system for 21st century. Google in particular, along with Microsoft and others hidden away in garages and research labs, are vying to become the computing platform that the runs the digital lives of others.

Competitors have so far failed to match the values associated with Apple’s brand, or its profit margins. Even Macintosh desktops and laptops generate the majority of profit among the players in the PC category, despite a 10 percent share of market.

However, the shift to mobile, wearable, augmented reality computing is just at its beginning. It’s a new world and Apple’s reign as a market maker and arbiter of good taste could be toppled. For that reason, the pressure is on Apple to make sure that 2014 has something more to keep its devoted fans in the fold than another cycle of upgrades.

 

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