Yesterday the annual meeting between Apple’s shareholders and its Board of Directors took place in Cupertino, where they discussed future plans and strategies regarding such much-vaunted issues as the possible entry into the videogame arena , the improvement of the Mac service, the iTunes catalogue, the availability of the iPhone in Asia and even the idea of a possible successor to Steve Jobs .
As you can see, inside every shareholder there is a pro-active fanboy who is willing to stand up to anyone in order to satisfy his curiosity. Do you want to know Steve Jobs’ , Tim Cook’s and Ron Johnson’s answers to all this? Well read on .
Apple and Video Games
The first question, straight to the neck: “Video games already move more money than Hollywood. And with $18 billion in cash, is Apple interested in, for example, acquiring Valve to take over the Half Life franchise and emulate what Microsoft accomplished with Bungie, a Mac developer, which turned what could have been a Mac game into Halo, the flagship of Xbox and DirectX game development? What is Apple’s strategy for games on the Mac, iPod, iPhone and Apple TV? “
Steve Jobs responded by listing the games released by EA for the Mac using the Transgaming Cider technology (the engine that allows you to port Windows applications to other platforms), the support the company has given to other Mac game developers, or the winner of the Apple Design Award: Blizzard’s famous World of Warcraft. Although Jobs did not show any interest in a confrontation with Microsoft in the market of PC video games , he recalled that the imminent launch of the development kit for the iPhone and iPod touch could open new business opportunities in the field of video games.
“Last year I asked about Apple’s plans for .Mac and we saw better integration with Leopard and the new Web Galleries for publishing videos and photos from iLife and the iPhone. Will Apple be able to recognize the potential of adding a blogging client that allows for even easier text publishing ? I’d love to use a Mac more, but I’m facing barriers such as bandwidth limits and slow upload speeds. Are there any plans to make a Mac more competitive and attractive?
To this question, Jobs responded by assuring that we will see new Mac applications throughout this year and referred back to the iPhone development kit as a tool that will allow third parties to provide their own solutions. After the sentence of “If Apple doesn’t do it, others will” , Jobs concluded by recommending that the shareholder learn Cocoa and write a blogging application for the iPhone by himself.
iTunes and Movie Rentals
When asked about the availability in terms of quality and quantity of video rentals on iTunes , Jobs acknowledged that the studios had not yet been able to offer enough content because of the difficulties of content created before anyone contemplated Internet distribution. These setbacks are nothing new and were already present in the early years of the iTunes Store with the sale of songs.
The initial goal of reaching 1000 titles at launch has been reduced to 600 and although, according to Apple’s CEO, their quality varies “from spectacular to worse than what we would like to see” , the film studios are working to overcome all the problems .
Apple without Steve Jobs
One of the hot spots of the meeting occurred when a shareholder expressed concern about the media intermingling Jobs and Apple to the point of indivisibility, asking what Apple would be without Jobs . According to our preferred CEO, there are already a number of highly qualified options among the Board of Directors to replace him “in case he gets hit by a bus” .
What are the first and last names of these candidates? Well, according to the Wall Street Journal, Tim Cook is the person with the most options. It may not sound like much to most of you, but Cook has worked closely with Jobs for the past ten years and is currently not only Apple’s director of worldwide sales and operations, but also heads the Macintosh division. Need more references? Well, you should know that before coming to Apple, Cook worked for 12 years at IBM and was a vice president at Compaq.
iPhone in Asia and Macs in Business
While we’re on the subject of Tim Cook, he answered most of the questions about Apple’s international plans, including the availability of the iPhone in India, China and other parts of Asia. Although he didn’t want to go into any details, Cook assured that Apple will land in Asia this year.
Another issue addressed by the COO was that of unlocked iPhones, downplaying the issue by stating that the company makes a profit on iPhone hardware so the unlocked units are not in any way the problem often presented in the media. For Cook, this practice only serves as an indication of the high demand the device enjoys.
Jobs took the floor to repeat the news that Apple surpassed Dell last year in selling laptops for educational environments in the U.S. When asked about the business market, Jobs indicated that his top priority is the consumer market for two reasons: it is larger than the business market and consumers are more receptive to innovation than businesses.
Flash on the iPhone
We know it, you know it and they know it. The absence of flash support on the iPhone is a burden that is long overdue. According to Steve Jobs, the iPhone needs a Flash player that works just like a computer and not something as limited as the Flash Lite that Adobe developed for mobile phones.
“Real Flash is too slow to be useful on the iPhone. (…) There is a gap between the two versions, an application that simply doesn’t exist .” , said Jobs while insisting on Apple’s good relationship with Adobe.
Physical workers and shops
Finally, a question that managed to exalt Jobs in terms of the impetus and emotion he showed in answering it: Apple and its work environment. The company appears to have drafted a code of conduct for all its major suppliers that it vigorously enforces, and is increasingly extending it to more and more companies with which it has relationships.
As for the physical stores, Jobs gave the floor to Ron Johnson, who commented that the company currently has over 15,000 employees in the Apple stores that make up approximately half of the company . Breaking the general trend among retailers, which renew about 80% of their staff annually, Johnson said that Apple is proud to be at the opposite end of the spectrum with 80% of workers being retained year after year.