Apple’s Cook Hints at Wearable Devices

May 28, 2013, 10:22 p.m. ET

Apple’s Cook Hints at Wearable Devices


RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif.—Apple Inc. AAPL -0.83% Chief Executive Tim Cook, defending its prowess as a tech trend-setter, hinted that wearable devices may play a role in future product plans.

Mr. Cook, speaking during Tuesday’s opening interview at the D: All Things Digital conference, praised devices such as Nike Inc.’s NKE +0.78% FuelBand, an activity tracker worn on the wrist. He said such wearable products “could be a profound area for technology.”He provided no further details, as is Apple’s custom. But he strongly defended the company’s record on innovation, despite recent complaints that the Silicon Valley company has failed to introduce any ground-breaking products lately.

“We have several more game changers in us” that the company has been “working on for awhile,” Mr. Cook said at the event.

The Wall Street Journal reported in February that Apple is experimenting with designs for a watch-like device that would perform some functions of a smartphone, according to people briefed on the effort.

Mr. Cook opened with a barrage of statistics regarding the performance and user satisfaction of Apple’s products like the iPhone and iPad, and also hinted that the company has more offerings in TV up its sleeve.

The Apple CEO spent much of his time striking back at the company’s recent challenges, which include questions about its tax policies and stiff competition from rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co. 005930.SE +0.81% But none of the questions is bigger than whether Apple can keep up the pace of product innovation for which the company has become known in recent years.

Worries about Apple losing its cool have weighed on its shares, which ended trading Tuesday at $441.44, about 37% below a September high of $705.07.

Mr. Cook acknowledged that the company’s stock price has been disappointing. “The stock price has been frustrating—it’s been frustrating for investors and all of us,” he said.

Recent interest in wearable device has increased with the arrival of GoogleGOOG +0.91% Glass, which serves as a kind of heads-up display for users to view Internet content. Mr. Cook said it’s “tough to see” Google Inc.’s product having mass-market appeal, but he said other kinds of wearable devices could become quite popular.

The Apple chief, closing in on two years as CEO, said the company ended last year with an “unprecedented number of new products,” including a smaller version of the iPad tablet computer, a new type of Mac laptop with a high-resolution screen, and an overhauled version of its iTunes digital-entertainment software.

Mr. Cook also hinted Apple’s iOS software powering its iPhone and iPad are set for a major upgrade, to be discussed at Apple’s software-developer conference in June.

He bristled at statistics that show Apple’s smartphones and tablets are losing sales ground to those powered by Google’s Android software. He said Apple believes it’s more important for its users to be happier than customers of competing devices. “Winning has never been about making the most,” Mr. Cook said.

Still, more than seven of every 10 new smartphones sold world-wide in the first three months of the year were powered by Google’s Android operating software. Apple’s market share in smartphones was 18.2%, down from 22.5% a year earlier, according to research firm Gartner Inc. IT +1.16%

As he did last week with a Senate panel probing Apple’s tax practices, Mr. Cook urged for a simplification of U.S. corporate-tax rules. Congressional investigators recently said Apple set up a tangle of tax-exempt foreign subsidiaries in order to pay little or no corporate taxes on $74 billion over the past four years.

The Congressional investigators haven’t said Apple broke the law, but they said the company was particularly aggressive in using corporate-tax loopholes. Mr. Cook took issue on Tuesday with the word “loopholes,” and said Apple would be fine paying a little more in taxes if the tax code were simpler.

The Wall Street Journal and All Things Digital share a parent company, News Corp NWSA +0.45% .

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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