Apple's CEO Tim Cook has given his first on-stage performance outside of the usual Apple keynote product launches at the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital conference in California.
The "fireside chat" saw the cool and collected chief executive talking on a wide range of topics, from working with Steve Jobs to his thoughts on Facebook and Apple's Siri for the iPhone 4S.
On Steve Jobs:
"I learnt a lot from Steve. It was absolutely the saddest day of my life when he passed away," he said.
"At some point late last year, I sort of - somebody kind of shook me and said, ‘It’s time to get on.’"
Cook said that what he learnt the most was "focus".
Skirting around the subject (as you would expect), Cook told interviewer Walt Mossberg that: “Facebook is a great company. I have great appreciation for them.”
He then echoed former CEO Steve Jobs's belief that Facebook has “their way of doing things, but people could say the same thing about us.”
While nothing concrete was confirmed, Cook repeatedly said "stay tuned", suggesting the two companies might be trying to work through their differences.
Cook said that, when possible, the company was going to be as secretive as it could be about expanding, buying companies and working on new products.
“We continue to buy companies,” he said. “They are not ones we seek to make public." He later added that if he doesn't have to announce it, he won't.
“We’re going to double down on secrecy on products,” Cook continued. But, with other things, he said, Apple would be the most transparent company - concerning itself with supplier reponsibility, environmental issues, etc.
Cook said Apple didn't look into buying the company recently bought by Facebook.
On Apple TV:
“This is an area of intense interest for us,” Cook said in the interview, before continuing the standard mantra that Apple TV iwas still very much an interest but not a smash hit... yet.
“We’re not a hobby kind of company, as you know,” he added. The company tends to put a lot of wood behind a few arrows. “We’ve stuck in this.”
Asked whether he felt Apple's voice control system Siri was up to scratch, Cook replied: “Customers love it. It’s one of the most popular features of iPhone 4S.
"But there’s more that it can do, and we have a lot of people working on this. And I think you will be really pleased with some of the things you’ll see over the coming months on this. We have some cool ideas about what Siri can do. We have a lot going on this."
He also added that the company was "doubling down" on Siri to bring more features and more possibilities to the system.
Reading between the lines, that implies the company could open up support to other apps in the next iteration of the iPhone's operating system: iOS 6. Third-party developers may be given the option of adding Siri support into their titles.
On why it's called the iPhone 4S:
Cook noted that the "S" in iPhone 3GS stood for "Speed", whereas with the iPhone 4S, the letter “S” stands for Siri.
"Well, it is a pain in the ass,” said Cook.
"Apple doesn’t have to own a social network, but does Apple have to be social? Yes,” he claimed. Although he did go on to agree that Ping hadn't really worked.
"We tried Ping, and I think the customer voted and said this isn’t something that I want to put a lot of energy into.”
As to whether the company would kill it? The CEO wasn't sure, but doesn't rule it out.
On new products:
He gave away no details on iOS 6, the purported Apple iTV, new MacBooks or the new iPhone (aka the iPhone 5) but Cook did tease the audience with the fact that: “The juices are flowing, and we have some incredible things coming out.”
With the company's Worldwide Developer Conference just around the corner (11 June), let's hope some of the "incredible" things will be with us sooner rather than later.
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