Tim Cook discusses Google selling Motorola, says iPhone hasn’t hit a ceiling, and more from full WSJ interview


After posting excerpts last night, in which Tim Cook announced Apple’s share buyback of $14 billion in the last two weeks, The Wall Street Journal has now published the full interview with Apple’s CEO.

The interview repeats many of the comments Cook has made to investors in the past, reaffirming that new product categories under development, but does contain some new, interesting tidbits. For instance, Wakabayashi asked Cook about Google’s disposal of Motorola. Cook says he “wasn’t surprised” that Google sold it off, saying that software and hardware integration is what makes Apple unique as a company.

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WSJ: What did you think of Google selling Motorola to Lenovo?

Cook: I wasn’t surprised. It seems like a logical transaction. Google gets rid of something that’s losing money, something that they’re not committed to. I think it’s really hard to do hardware, software and services and to link all those things together. That’s what makes Apple so special. It’s really hard, so I’m not surprised that they are not going to do that.

The Journal also pressed Cook on the share buyback program. Although snippets of Cook’s reply were in the article from last night, the full response puts Cook’s answers in better context.

We recognize that we have more money than we need to run our business and invest for the future and invest in new products and acquire new companies and invest in capex, etc. We fully recognized that. We even said after we more than doubled it that we’re going to look at this thing every year. And each time we do this, we go back out to shareholders and listen to them. They’re owners of the company. We’re looking at tax policy. It’s a fairly complex set of things to consider. It’s not a simple thing.

But we also wanted a program that’s flexible. We wanted to take advantage of opportunities that came our way. Those opportunities may be acquisitions. In the last 15 months, we’ve acquired 21 companies. We’re doing it low-key. We’re not making big announcements about these. It shows that we’re looking a lot. I think we’ve made smart purchases.

On bigger iPhones, Cook did not dismiss the idea. As before, Cook says that all aspects of smartphone screens need to be considered, not just the physical size. Regarding Apple’s product pipeline in 2014, Cook said that new products are under development, but stressed that they have not hit the ‘ceiling’ on their current products yet either. Clearly, Cook wants to set expectations that he does not see Apple at the end of the road for the current products. He said Apple can grow with “great improvements and new products on its existing category of products”.

He also reiterated his comments on ‘making the best, not making the most’, but qualified this by saying that market share is still a significant factor for Apple’s business.

I don’t view that as being satisfied with being small or however you want to define it. It’s not saying that market share is irrelevant or not important. I’ve never said that. I just always tried to say that the macro thing for us is to make a great product and we must do that.

[tweet https://twitter.com/carl_c_icahn/status/431869288807288834]

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  1. frostie4flakes - 9 years ago

    The next horizon just ahead is iPhone integration into the Apple Ecosystem. “Buy one product and you have a reason to buy another”! Move from one product sales into multiple ones that integrate, but can be added over time. This makes sense to me and once again defines a new market. This moves Apple more and more into the integration business, one product at a time tied together, in part by iOS and specialized apps.

  2. frostie4flakes - 9 years ago

    There is no ceiling for the iPhone in an integrated environment. This is an expanding universe, but new high value defining products and software must keep pace. This could be a developers dream come true. Of course, unless I’m wrong. I don’t see it though, because there is new functionality that has yet to be utilized from the 5s and beyond.

  3. Lee (@leemahi) - 9 years ago

    I can’t wait for this watch, and bigger screen iPhones. The AAPL investors are fools!

    • elder Signin - 9 years ago

      Lee, Hate Apple much??? Why are investors of Apple fools?? Speculators are a different thing. Did you mean speculators??

  4. Chris Duffy - 9 years ago

    If I see Apple finally give in and make a 4.8″ or 5″ device … I’ll be beyond excited. Other than that, there’s not much that you can add to an iPhone that’ll make is SO much better. They already do what they do exceptionally well….albeit not much. They’re not designed to be bleeding edge with all the bells and whistles. They’re meant to be perfect. Pretty damn close !

    • Why would Apple go from petit to gargantuan? I think there is a much higher chance that Apple will have a modest increase to 4.5 inches. Then they’ll wait and see what happens when their competitors run into the size ceiling – eventually sales will plummet because people just can use the devices/fit them in their pockets! Levi’s LITERALLY redesigned their pockets because they were too small to fit Android devices. Then everyone will have to admit that Apple had it right all along.

      • frostie4flakes - 9 years ago

        It’s quite possible to see a larger phone as a mini, mini iPad! Transitional product that could give a larger view of iWatch data.

  5. I more or less expect Apple to split the iPhone into two, differently-marketed products. A “small” / slightly cheaper than now / more cozy plastic iPhone 6 (the 5s in plastic, more or less) and a larger phone in the 5-6″ range, with all the bling of a premium product, all the latest sexy + fancy materials and different branding (iPhone Air is my guess).

    Makes perfect sense, especially with the current naming impasse that they have created (5s/5c) (and I’d say this was a very well-calculated “miss”)

    • frostie4flakes - 9 years ago

      I don’t see Apple going down the 5c road again. Possibly a big box item, but I don’t think so. Sell older models as they are doing now. That seems to be a good market. I believe people want an iPhone to look like one.

  6. elder Signin - 9 years ago

    Ben, Not a bad article. You kept to the facts and did not try to invent the future based upon blogger – Anal yst like many writers/ commenters do.

    Just saying.


Avatar for Benjamin Mayo Benjamin Mayo

Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.