Rancho Palos Verdes, CA — It has been a rough year for Apple. The company has battled fierce competitors like Samsung, come under scrutiny for tax avoidance, and watched in dismay as its stock price took more dips and turns than a roller coaster.
In a keynote interview Tuesday evening at D: All Things Digital, a technology conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, paused in thought for a second when asked whether the company was in trouble and had lost its cool.
“Absolutely not,” he said.
He said the company was still capable — and currently working on — technology and devices that would transform the industry as broadly and meaningfully as previous products like iTunes and the iPhone have.
“We’ve always suited up and fought,” he said.
The company has made nine acquisitions this year, he said, not all of which were made public, to help it prepare for the future product releases, among other things.
Cook said that although the company’s fluctuating stock price was frustrating, he was encouraged by the company’s most recent quarter, when it sold 85 million iPhones and 42 million iPads. He said that the company had started from the bottom and that, in the beginning, success had been elusive. The rest of the time, he said, it was cyclical. He said 59 percent of all Web traffic is generated by iOS devices, although he did not offer a source for that statistic.
“For us, winning has never been about making the most,” he said. “We make the best PC, but we don’t make the most.”
He said that “same culture and largely the same people that brought you the iPhone and the iPad are still there,” continuing to work on new products.
He said Apple continued to look at the TV industry, but he had no comment on whether the company was working on something other than Apple TV, saying he didn’t want “to give anyone any ideas.”
When asked about Glass, the new computing eyewear system from Google, Cook said it had some appeal but added that it was “tough to see” whether it had mainstream appeal. But he said he viewed wearable computers in general as an area ripe for development and innovation. He also predicted that the sensor market was “going to explode.”
He said that the smartwatch was interesting and that it could be another pillar of computing in the post-PC era, along with the smartphone and tablet computer.
But first, he said, “you have to convince people it’s something incredible.”
Toward the end of the interview, Cook bristled when asked questions about whether Apple used gimmicks or accounting tricks to avoid billions in taxes. He said Apple paid $6 billion annually in U.S. taxes, which he said was “more than anyone else.”
He said the company “did what every multinational company did,” adding there was serious need for reform.