Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) Gears Up for New Products

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) Gears Up for New ProductsPalm Beach, FL 5/30/12 (StreetBeat) -- Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) chief executive Tim Cook teed up big expectations for the world's largest technology company, saying in an interview that the company is preparing to release some "incredible" new products.

But, pressed about possibilities such as whether Apple would develop a smaller iPhone or a television, he gave no details, vowing to "double down" on product secrecy.

During his remarks during the Tuesday evening opening interview at the D: All Things Digital conference—his first appearance at the annual event—Mr. Cook stressed continuity with his predecessor, Steve Jobs, who handed him the reins in August. Mr. Jobs died in October.

Mr. Cook said that Apple would continue to innovate and hinted at big things ahead. "The juices are flowing," he said. "We have some incredible things coming out."

But the 51-year-old Apple veteran also provided a rare hint of how he is doing things differently than his predecessor Steve Jobs, whose legacy include a culture that prized secrecy.

He said Apple would be more transparent about issues related to social change, he added, including labor rights in China, where Apple has faced continue scrutiny.

Mr. Cook said he hoped more components for Apple products would be made in the U.S. Noting that iPhone's processor and glass covering are made in the U.S., he said: "We will do as many of these as we can."

He also said he spends less time on design and marketing than Mr. Jobs, who had a particular passion and reputation for micromanaging those functions.

The Apple leader had little to say about one issue the tech and media worlds are on pins and needles about: whether the technology company plans to build a television or create a new type of television content service.

Mr. Cook dodged the question as he has in the past, highlighting the growth of Apple's existing $99 Apple TV box. Mr. Cook called the device, which is still relatively a niche product, "an area of intense interest for us."

"We are going to keep pulling this string and see where it takes us," he said.

He said Apple would consider issues like whether the company could "control the key technology" in assessing whether to do more. But he also refused to address whether the company would do so.

When pressed about whether Apple would release different versions of the iPhone and iPad in different sizes, Mr. Cook said, "There is not a policy or commandment that thou shalt have one. If we find we can do more, great."

He did identify one priority—Siri the voice-response technology Apple delivered with its latest iPhone, which has received some criticism for not working consistently.

"There is more that it can do," Mr. Cook said. "I think you'll be really pleased with some things you will see over the coming months."

Mr. Cook told the audience to "stay tuned" on the question of whether Apple would strike a partnership with Facebook Inc., the social-networking juggernaut that still isn't integrated into the iPhone in a meaningful way. The relationship between the technology powerhouses is a topic of persistent gossip in Silicon Valley, particularly as Apple has struck such a deal with social service Twitter. "I think we can do more with them," he said.

Mr. Cook also addresses his frustration with the company's proliferating patent battles with Samsung Electronics Co. and other smartphone rivals. While defending Apple's action against other companies for copying what he regards as Apple's creative works, he reiterated his views it is unfair for Samsung and others to sue Apple for infringing patents that are considered essential to building phones compatible with industrywide technology standards.

Owners of so-called standards essential patents agree to license them on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms. "There is some of this that is maddening," Mr. Cook said.

The conference, like The Wall Street Journal, is owned by News Corp.

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