Apple CEO Tim Cook has shared a range of different thoughts and announcements in his keynote address to a Goldman Sachs conference today. During this event he was interviewed by the firm's president, Gary Cohn, who almost drooled as he listed Apple's last financial results. He notified Cook that during his speech, Apple had broken the $700bn market cap boundary – the first US firm to do so.
Cook said Cupertino's success was down to having unprecedented control over its products – designing the hardware, software, and services to run on its devices – and by never making a product that's second best in quality.
The Apple Pay mobile payments system is going to be a major growth driver, he predicted, saying that since the launch of the service in October, Apple has signed up 90 per cent of banks and credit unions to the technology. Over two thirds of all mobile payments now go through Apple's servers, he said.
Emerging markets are also going to be key according to Cook. He recounted that five years ago Apple made less than a billion dollars per year in China, but that this figure was now $38bn per year. The firm has similar plans afoot in India and is making massive investments in that country to woo the emerging middle class.
Apple also wants to get into the enterprise sphere with a new range of devices and applications that it is developing with IBM. The goal is to do to the enterprise market what Apple has already done to the consumer sphere.
"The enterprise has not moved to mobility in a big way, like the consumer market has," Cook said. "There are still so many people stuck at a desk – you're living one way at home and then you go back in time once you get to work."
Cook also predicted that the forthcoming Apple Watch would have as big an impact as the iPad did in the tablet, phone, and MP3 player markets. In all three of those segments, Apple wasn't the first but it was clearly the best in its class.
He recounted how the smartwatches are already making Apple execs jump up and down, although not for the reasons you expect.
"Some doctors now think that sitting down for long periods is the new cancer, so ten minutes before the hour the Watch software taps you to make you have a walk around," he recounted. "It's quite funny to be in a meeting at Apple and ten minutes before the hour people get up and start moving around, but people like it."
For all the high-minded talk, however, Cook wasn't going to miss a chance to put the boot into the competition while he had the ears of the financial masters of the universe, and he launched a stinging attack on Google and others who monetize their users' data.
"Customers have the right to privacy and don't want a company knowing everything about them. We make a little bit of money when you buy our products and that's it – you are not the product," he said.
"That's how we look at the world and it's how our customers want us to look at the world. There's no reason why anyone needs to know when you buy something, what you buy, and what you pay. It's none of my business and I think customers will rebel on this."
Hey - forget about all those coal-powered Chinese factories where our stuff gets made. Look at this solar array in California!
Apple also plans to spend a slice of its near-endless billions on one of the largest solar farms ever constructed on Earth.
The power plant will drive its California operations, and CEO Tim Cook says this is not only the right thing to do morally, but it also makes good business sense.
"We know in Apple that climate change is real and our view is the time for talking is passed and time for action is now," Cook told the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.
"So that's what we've done. We are doing it because it's the right thing to do but it's also good sense financially. We expect to have significant savings with fixed price renewable energy, and it's quite different from the price of brown energy."
The new solar plant, to be built in Monterey County, California by First Solar, will stretch across 2,900 acres and Apple's $848m stake will get it 130 megawatts of renewable energy under a 25-year contract. Cook said that was enough to power Apple's California offices, the 52 Apple retail stores in the state, and the firm's Newark, California data center.
The plant will have a total capacity of 230 megawatts, and the remaining power will be sold to the local power company for resale. Work begins on the plant later this year and it should be ready to go online by 2016 at the latest.
"Apple is leading the way in addressing climate change by showing how large companies can serve their operations with 100 per cent clean, renewable energy," said Joe Kishkill, First Solar's chief commercial officer. [Ignoring the inconvenient truth that most of Apple's industrial activities are outsourced and offshore, but without these activities and the gigantic profits they produce there would be no need for any offices, data centre and shops in California. -Ed]
"Apple's commitment was instrumental in making this project possible and will significantly increase the supply of solar power in California. Over time, the renewable energy from California Flats will provide cost savings over alternative sources of energy as well as substantially lower environmental impact." ®