As expected, Tim Cook today took the stage at the Wall Street Journal Digital Live conference for an interview. During his time on stage, Cook discussed a variety of topics, ranging from iPhone to Apple Watch and to Apple Music. The main points are below:
- New Apple TV available next Monday, Oct. 26, shipping later that week
- 6.5 million paying Apple Music customers, 15 million total subscribers
- A focus on CarPlay in the short-term, but the car industry is at an “inflection point for massive change”
First up, Cook was asked about Apple Watch sales. Apple has notoriously not officially offered up any sales numbers when it comes to the device, and when asked if it ever would, Cook said he doesn’t plan on it, saying the numbers would help competitors:
“We are not announcing the numbers. This is competitive information,” Cook said. “I don’t want to help the competition. We shipped a lot the first quarter, then last quarter we shipped even more. I can predict this quarter we will ship even more.”
Regarding the future of Apple Watch, Cook said that perhaps the biggest area of growth for the device is the health aspect. “People love the health and fitness aspect of Watch,” Cook explained. “That’s certainly been true for me. The health aspect of the watch has a long product road map ahead of it.”
More interestingly, Cook was asked if there would ever be a Watch that doesn’t have to be connected to an iPhone. In his typical fashion, however, Cook only said, “I don’t want to tell you that.”
Regarding the iPhone, Cook was asked how Apple can speed up its innovation and if it feels like it needs to move away from the “S” release cycle. Cook responded, however, by saying the iPhone 6s has just as many innovations as the iPhone 6 did and that Apple feels pressure to innovate every year.
The interview then shifted focus to Apple Music. Cook announced that Apple Music has 6.5 million paying customers, a far cry from the 20 million Spotify has. Nevertheless, Cook said that people love the human curation aspect of the platform. For himself, Cook said that he was in a rut, listening to the same songs over and over before Apple Music was launched.
Next up, Cook discussed Apple TV. Most notably, the Apple executive revealed that the fourth-generation model will be available next week. Orders will start on Monday with the device shipping later that week. Cook called the current TV industry “terrible and broken” and explained that it has to be “brought up and modernized.” He went on to say that “the starting gun has been fired,” thanks to Apple.
Tim Cook, Fox head Rupert Murdoch and NSA Admiral Rogers via @geoffreyfowler
The Apple executive was then asked about cars, a market that the company is rumored to be entering before the end of the decade. Cook didn’t delve into too much detail, however, and rather focused on Apple’s existing CarPlay platform.
“When I look at the automobile, what I see is that software becomes an increasingly important part of the car of the future. You see that autonomous driving becomes much more important. It seems like there will be massive change in that industry. We want people to have an iPhone experience in their car. We look at a lot of things. Our model is to reduce that list to a few. We will see what we do in the future. I do think that industry is at an inflection point for massive change, not just evolutionary change.”
Cook was then asked about privacy and Apple’s relationship with the government. Cook explained that Apple will not make trade-offs in customer experience to save costs when it comes to privacy. He also noted, however, that Apple’s strong commitment to privacy holds it back when it comes to features like predicting locations and analyzing photos.
“We are not making a trade-off with customer experience. Our view is that you can have both. We think encryption is a must in today’s world. No back door is a must. You can’t have a backdoor that’s only for the good guys. Any backdoor is a door bad guys can exploit. No one should have to decide privacy or security. We should be smart enough to do both.”
Cook and the interviewer, Gerard Baker, then got into a debate over the possibility of a backdoor being a way to stop all crime. Baker argued that should there be a backdoor, crime would be greatly reduced. Cook, on the other hand, wasn’t buying it and defended his position that there is no reason for a backdoor. “If there was a way to expose only ‘bad’ people … that would be a great thing. But this is not the world,” said Cook. Baker even referenced 9/11, saying that had the FBI been able to construct a panopticon with total access to all information, it very well could have been prevented.
The final topic of the night was centered around Apple’s role in the public life. Cook explained the company’s role in the environment, human rights issues, education, and more. One reason Cook cited for wanting to take a role in public issue is that “government isn’t working well.”
“We’re a global company, so I think we have a responsibility to be a great global citizen. Each generation struggles with treating people with basic, proper human respect. It’s so bizarre, I think. I’ve seen this growing up. I’ve seen in today. I’d love to help be able to push the ball over the line. Because I think the world would be so much a better place if we just treated people well and treated them with basic human respect. We want to give back. Our culture is to leave the world better than we found it.”
Cook cited Steve Jobs as his main inspiration for wanting to improve public life.
“Steve formed Apple to change the world. This was his vision. He wanted to give technology down to everyone and empower everyone to use it. He wanted to take it out of the glass house, the corporations, the rich people that had the technology. That is still our drive.”
The WSJ then asked a somewhat bizarre question about whether Apple’s efforts to appeal to the mass market and take a stand on social issues would drive away some of its customers. Cook, however, said that that’s not a worry for Apple.
“If we piss a few people off, at least they’ll say, they made a great product, and I may not agree with this or that, but I respect that they’re trying to leave the world better than they found it. At least, that’s what I hope they’ll say.”
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‘”…Apple Music has 6.5 million paying customers, a far cry from the 20 million Spotify has.”
Let’s keep things into perspective. Spotify, the company, was formed in 2006 and the service launched in 2008, a little over a year from the debut of the original iPhone so I think Apple should be commended for getting 1/4 of that in just a few months. It’s certainly a huge step up from Beats Music’s original numbers that hadn’t even reached a million after a few months on the market.
And if the new Apple TV sells well it could give that number a slight bump.
There’s no doubt Apple Music had/has some issues and obviously that hurt the initial roll out but in my mind Apple Music is far superior to Spotify.
Glad to hear Apple TV will be out next week!
Totally agree. And Spotify is cross platform. Apple Music is yet to launch on Android. So in a couple of years, Apple Music will definitely have more customers than Spotify.
Couple of years hell. Apple will be the dominant streaming music service by the end of calendar 2016. But so what? twenty Million subscribers only amounts to $2.4 Billion in annual revenue. Paraphrasing Neil Armstrong: that’s a small amount for Apple, a giant amount for Spotify.
Streaming will never be a significant revenue source for Apple. It’s purpose is to fill one of the niches in the iTunes ecosystem.
Also, how much has Apple music reduced Spotifys numbers since?
AND devices that currently support Apple Music are the 15% of the total. So this is a good result, let’s see what happens when Apple Music will land to Android
I am a Apple Music subscriber and a fan of the service, so I’m not trying to pick holes in the 6.5 million # but I wonder if that could be inflated compared to Spotify. I have a family plan for 5 people. Does my $15 count as 1 or as 5 in that $6.5 million. Spotify also has a family plan but it’s priced more per person. So per subscriber revenue may be much higher per Spotify user.
BOOYAA for the new Apple TV! Can’t wait to order mine! Also, pretty darn good start for Apple Music!
there is no way that apple didn’t steal a slice of spotify customers away. the 20M number has to be outdated by now.
Some also went the other way. I subscribed to both at the same time. I stopped trying to work out Apple Music within the week. Spotify simply makes sense, Apple Music needs instructional videos to teach you how to use it. Apple has lost the UIX advantage.
I really don’t understand what’s complicated about Apple Music? I tried it for a few weeks and it seems simple to me. Spotify is convoluted to me, although it’s not too bad.
@o0smoothies0o – Try it coupled with iTunes Match and you’ll feel the pain.
Cool, because Spotify doesn’t even have a similar service for the “match” service.
Really? Because it kind of sounds like 6.5 million people haven’t had too much trouble using Apple Music. Then again, some people need instruction manuals on how to use their TV remote. Also it’s UX, not UIX. Maybe watch some instructional videos on how to talk about things you don’t really understand.
RE: o0smoothies0o – I feel the same way. Apple Music’s UI isn’t perfect but I don’t get how people think it’s confusing. It’s just dense.
Constantly updated playlists, playlists by magazines and artists, playlists based on mood, a social media network, music videos, a 24/7 radio station with shows by Drake, Elton John, Pharrell, etc., radio-based playlists, new albums (by genre) and your entire iTunes music collection. I’d love to see someone else try to make a cohesive UI/UX around so much content.
One huge feather in Apple Music’s UI is the ability to search from almost anywhere. Not so with Spotify. If you navigate 6 albums deep you’ll be swiping/tapping backwards all the way back home just to get to the sidebar to search.
I was once with Rdio and one thing I really missed when I went to Spotify was album art next to everything. I’m a very visual person so for me remembering a song title doesn’t always work but I retain album art so it’s always nice to see that image next to the song. Never mind that the UI is more colorful and alive than the sea of black and neon black filling the display in Spotify.
And again, if Apple’s starting out with 6.5 million subscribers that’s a really good start. I read numbers were around 3 million which I thought was a little weak but nearly 7 million is amazing for post-3 month trial.
Rhapsody has the best interface of all of them and their human-curated playlists are outstanding.
Exactly. I’d hate to be an iTunes/Apple Music UI designer. I doubt it was the UI designers who decided to cram so much stuff into Apple Music.
How is the fact that the Watch will continue to focus on health sensors into the future less interesting than that it will become independent of an iPhone? Of course it will be independent at some point, but the experience will be far worse than if you had an iPhone with you as well. Let’s put it this way, there is no future where a watch is all you have, because that future would be horrifically bad. I like screen size to read things on. The most important function of the watch is biometrics into the future, it’s by far and away the number 1 reason for the product to exist. I’m glad and confident in them knowing that is their main goal in the product’so roadmap. They get it, they just need time to make biometrics accurate enough. It will change the world, just not yet.
Yeah, the “watch without phone” argument is epitome of “I don’t understand things”.
Monday. Thank you. Can stop refreshing the Apple Store now. :)
So does that mean 9.1 will be released next week to coincide with Apple TV updates?
Apple TV reviews Wednesday alongside iOS 9.1 and OSX 10.11.1? Or iOS 9.1 and OSX 10.11.1 next week.
Apple Music is a good bet in countries like INDIA. For less than $2 a month, you get the Apple Music individual subscription that IMO is great! I wonder if people start switching the country to INDIA or whatsoever and have this pricing. Apart from that, Spotify is yet not there, and Apple Music rules. I have Siri integration and what not, I love Apple Music irrespective of what people say.
I second that. Way better than any other service in India.
I hope Apple has had the sense to talk to local streaming providers this time to get some relevant content onto the new Apple TV. As can be seen from other open platforms, such as Chromecast and Android TV, being open doesn’t guarantee a good range of services. I can only imagine you have to pay providers to be on your platform, at least until you have enough units in the wild to make support inevitable.
From a UK perspective there are several core streaming services which could be considered essentials. BBC iPlayer, Now TV, All4, Amazon, and Netflix would be the top 5.So far Apple have two of those on the new Apple TV. BBC iPlayer in particular is as important to UK audiences as Netflix is to US customers. It’s non negotiable.
I contacted the BBC to ask if they would be on the new ATV and was told unequivocally no. Apple need to change their mind, and that may mean paying the BBC. So be it. Apple have money to burn and if they have any hope of this device selling here, then they need the BBC, and Amazon for that matter, on board. Time to bury hatchets and open wallets.
I am puzzled why the BBC would have an iPhone app, but not an Apple TV app? Dev costs should not be too high. I agree it will help UK sales, and would like to see it myself, but I’m not sure Apple would pay for it.
I would be surprised if Amazon don’t produce their own app, as they are on so many other platforms and it makes their service that much more useful. At the moment I have a WDTV for streamed video, an Apple TV mainly for Netflix and Airplay, and an Amazon Fire Stick for Amazon Video (oh, and Sky for satellite TV and iPlayer), it would be good to unify a few of these.
Why would Apple need to change their mind? Nothing to do with Apple, it’s solely at the discretion of the BBC. It was discussed in an article a few years ago and the beeb said they wouldn’t be on Apple TV, with confirmation recently after the new Apple TV was announced that they wouldn’t be on it (still). Not sure what their problem is, they have apps for iOS so should be easy for them to develop an app for the new tvOS. They have dozens of iPlayer apps for every crappy Smart TV going so why would they shun the Apple TV which is going to sell in it’s millions? If the licence payers are demanding it then surely they have a duty to be on Apple TV, maybe they’ll change their mind over time.
When the Roku ans the Fire TV launched, iPlayer was present. The BBC are unlikely to jump aboard a new platform without some financial encouragement, so it seems likely that Roku and Amazon paid for the iPlayer apps. Apple should be doing the same. Their disinterest in non US markets for the Apple TV has always stuck me as bizarre. Surely Apple UK realise the importance of iPlayer for a streaming device.
That was a very bizarre debate attempt from the WSJ, with the Journal taking the side of government and corporate spying on citizens and then digging in. Simply weird stuff. I wonder if this little game was generated in the Journel’s boardroom “to try to get him”. Shameful.
Really want to get the new Apple TV, but there is almost nothing known about it other than vague talking points. Hard to sell it to the missus if I can’t promote its benefits… Thanks Apple for totally dropping the ball on hyping the Appletv.
Maybe it is a good idea if mr Cook talks a bit less about TV’s and a bit more about apple core rot…
I’m seriously disappointed in the Apple TV and can’t wait to not buy one.
Not shown in the picture above is Sergey under the table waiting for Admiral Rogers to sit back down….
What about the iPad Pro????
And how many of these users simply forgot to opt-out after entering their credit card number 3 months ago?
Sounds like the Apple Watch isn’t selling too well…he refused to give numbers because “this is competitive information…I don’t want to help the competition” yet has no problem bragging about having 6.5m Apple Music subscribers.