Quoting Tim Cook: 5 Gadget-Related Sound Bites from Apple’s Latest Earnings Call

Apple held its latest earnings call yesterday. Here are five quotes from Tim Cook that relate to Apple's hardware lines.

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Robert Galbraith / Reuters

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks to the audience during an Apple event in San Jose, California October 23, 2012.

Apple held its latest earnings call yesterday – you can read about the financial implications over in our Business & Money section – which ended with CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer fielding questions from industry analysts.

If you’re more interested in gadgets than numbers (I know I am), the Q&A segments of Apple’s earnings calls are where most of the good stuff lives.

Here are five quotes from Tim Cook that relate to Apple’s hardware lines.

Android phones with 5-inch and larger screens are getting more and more popular, but we probably shouldn’t expect a huge iPhone anytime soon:

The iPhone 5 offers — as you know — a new 4-inch Retina display, which is the most advanced display in the industry. No one comes close to matching the level of quality as the Retina display. It also provides a larger screen size for iPhone customers without sacrificing the one-handed ease of use that our customers love. So we put a lot of thinking into screen size and believe we picked the right one.

Why Apple rumors are tricky (likely referring to recent reports of iPad screen production slowdowns):

I know there’s been lots of rumors about order cuts and so forth, and so let me just take a moment to make a comment on these. I don’t want to comment on any particular rumor because I would spend my life doing that, but I would suggest it’s good to question the accuracy of any kind of rumor about build plans, and also stress that even if a particular data point were factual, it would be impossible to accurately interpret the data point as to what it meant for our overall business, because the supply chain is very complex and we obviously have multiple sources for things, yields might vary, supplier performance can vary, the beginning inventory positions can vary. I mean, there’s just an inordinate long list of things that would make any single data point not a great proxy for what’s going on.

Why Apple won’t produce a bunch of different versions of the iPhone to try to hold (or win back) smartphone market share:

The most important thing to Apple is to make the best products in the world that enrich customers’ lives. That’s our high-order bid. That means that we aren’t interested in revenue for revenue’s sake. We could put the Apple brand on a lot of things and sell a lot more stuff, but that’s not what we’re here for. We want to make only the best products. And so what does that mean for market share? We’ve been able to do that, and I think we’ve had a great track record here on iPod of doing different products at different price points and getting a reasonable share from doing that. I wouldn’t view these things as mutually exclusive as some might. But the high-order bid is making a great product that enriches customers’ lives, and so that’s what we’re focused on.

On the subject of Apple TV (the $99 box) versus an Apple TV (the mythical TV set), and the difficulty of getting content providers to play ball:

In terms of the product that we sell today — the Apple TV — we sold more last quarter than we’ve ever sold before, eclipsing two million during the quarter. It was up almost 60% year-on-year and so there is actually very, very good growth in that product. What was a small niche at one time of people that loved it is a much larger number that love it. I have said in the past this is an area of intense interest for us, and it remains that. I tend to believe that there is a lot we can contribute in this space. And so we continue to pull the string and see where it leads us, but I don’t want to be more specific.

Why the iPhone eating into iPod sales is no big deal. Same for the iPad eating into Mac sales:

In terms of cannibalization and how we think about this, I see cannibalization as a huge opportunity for us. One, our base philosophy is to never fear cannibalization. If we do, somebody else will just cannibalize it, and so we never fear it. We know that iPhone has cannibalized the iPod business — it doesn’t worry us that it’s done that. We know that iPad will cannibalize some Macs — that doesn’t worry us. On iPad in particular, we have the mother of all opportunities here, because the Windows market is much, much larger than the Mac market is, and I think it is clear that it’s already cannibalizing some and I think there’s a tremendous amount more opportunity there. As you know, I’ve said for two or three – actually three years now, I believe — that I believe the tablet market would be larger than the PC market at some point, and I still believe that. And you can see by the growth in tablets and the pressure on PCs that those lines are beginning to converge.

I think the other thing for us — maybe not for others, but for us –is that if somebody buys an iPad Mini or an iPad and it’s their first Apple product, we have great experience through the years of knowing that when somebody buys their first Apple product, that a percentage of these people wind up buying another type of Apple product. And so, if you remember what we had termed the halo effect for some time with the iPod and with the Mac, we’re very confident that that will happen, and we’re seeing some evidence of that on the iPad as well. And so I see cannibalization as a huge opportunity.

You can listen to the entire call here (the Q&A starts at around the 20-minute mark); there’s also a decent transcript here, which is split into separate Presentation and Q&A sections for easy reference.

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