May 30, 2013
Tim Cook On Following Apple’s “North Star”

For Tim Cook, the stars don’t align by accident.

The Apple CEO took up the red chair last night to kick off this year’s “D11” conference with All Things D. Though Cook’s first time on that stage was last year, he mostly fielded questions about Apple’s fate after the death of Steve Jobs. This time, Cook showed he’s got a firm grip on the company reins, guiding the company by following one major rule.

“Apple has always had competition to focus on, but our North Star is always on making the best products,” Cook said. “We always come back to that. We want to do the best phone, the best tablet, the best PC. I think we’re doing that.”

Cook acknowledged Apple’s recent decline in stock price, noting there will always be ups and downs but that there’s a sure cure to such a common cold.

“The beauty of being around for a while is you see a lot of cycles,” he said. “At the end of 2007, Apple’s stock price was $200. It was $75 a couple years later. What we have to do is focus on products—making the best products, and if we do that right . . . then the other things will happen.”

One product Cook seems to be pushing in the right direction is Apple TV, of which he said 13 million have been sold (about half of those in the last year). Still, creating millions of products isn’t Cook’s goal.

“It’s about enriching lives, not making the most,” he said, and later referring to the Apple iPhone vs. Google Android battle he reiterated, “What the numbers suggest over and over again is that people are using our products more. That’s what we are all about. We want to enrich people’s lives.”

Along with promising product development, Cook said Apple has been going after more companies than in the past, with nine already acquired since last October.

Of course, Cook was mum on what people most wanted to hear about—Apple’s future plans and upcoming product releases.

“We release products when they are ready,” he explained. “We believe very much in the element of surprise. We think customers love surprises. I have no plan on changing that.”

Cook did mention that wearable technology like digital wristwatches and eyewear could be a profoundly interesting market. He pointed out that most of these products currently do only one thing, while those that do more than one thing don’t do anything particularly well.

“There’s lots of things to solve in this space,” he said, adding that it’s an area that is “ripe for exploration.”

Though it’s been a while since Apple has introduced one of its market-altering products, Cook said the Apple culture is still alive and well, with many of the same innovative minds that produced its most successful products.

“We have some incredible plans that we have been working on for a while,” he said. “We have several more game changers in us . . . Do we need to do more? Yes. Always.”