Notes from Apple’s shareholder meeting

I attended Apple’s shareholder meeting at the company’s Cupertino, California headquarters this morning as a member of the media. Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off the meeting and received a standing ovation before giving a few brief remarks, including a look at next year’s meeting.

“This will be the last shareholder meeting in this room,” said Cook. “Next year, we will invite you out to the Steve Jobs Theater and we hope you can join us there.”

Of course, the Steve Jobs Theater is part of Apple’s new campus, Apple Park, which is scheduled to open in April.

As with all shareholder meetings, this one was about business first. There were a number of proposals that make up the formal part of the meeting. For example, the election of Apple’s board of directors, approval of executive compensation, and approval of Ernst and Young as the accounting firm. All of these were passed by shareholders.

There were a couple of shareholder proposals including a call for mandatory diversity on the board of directors and senior management of the company. There was also a proposal for Apple to disclose to shareholders all of the organizations it donates money to during the year. Both of these proposals were voted down by shareholders.

Moderated by Bruce Sewell, Apple’s general counsel and senior vice president of Legal and Government Affairs, the formal part of the meeting came to a close after about 40 minutes.

Tim Cook’s Q&A

The most entertaining part of the shareholder’s meeting was when Tim Cook came back for an informal Q&A with shareholders.

Cook started by giving a few remarks on the company’s products, noting the iPhone sold 78 million units last quarter, becoming the top selling smartphone.

“Our goal has never been to sell the most, but sell the best,” said Cook. “But we did sell the most last quarter.”

Cook also noted that Apple Watch had its best quarter ever and, if Services were its own company, it would be a Fortune 100 one. Apple has over 20 million Apple Music subscribers but Apple sells subscriptions to other services like Netflix. Cook said there were 150 million subscribers that interacted with Apple.

Once Cook’s remarks were finished, he invited shareholders to ask questions.

Rev. Jesse Jackson thanked Cook and Apple for protecting customer’s privacy and standing up for citizens.

One woman asked Cook for a “really smart dumb phone” and she wanted it to be round.

When asked about its commitment to the pro community, Cook noted how important those people were to Apple.

“There’s still a ton of revenue outside of iPhone,” said Cook. The Mac, Watch, services, iPad are all essential to Apple’s growth. You will see us do more in the pro area. The creative community is very important to us.”

One interesting question was about whether or not Apple had plans for a touchscreen Mac. At first Cook responded with, “We don’t like to talk about future products,” but he then made his position clear.

“Expect us to do more and more where people will view it as a laptop replacement, but not a Mac replacement—the Mac does so much more.”

The best quote I’ve ever heard from Cook on the argument for making a touchscreen Mac instead of, or in conjunction with, an iPad, came at the end of the shareholder’s meeting.

“To merge these worlds, you would lose the simplicity of one and the power of the other.” said Cook.

Well said.

  • john doofus

    I’m very much in agreement with Cook’s statement on merging the Mac and the iPad. I really don’t see how it can it be done elegantly.

  • DanielSw

    I like that final comment, too. Very sage and reassuring. I also like his reference to seeing more in the pro area, and that the creative community is very important to Apple.

  • sav savron

    aapl prints money

  • Mo

    It’s annoying to realize that some of the few times I’ve learned about a profitable stock that has a fraction of Apple’s success and durability, they get bought by a bigger firm.

  • Edit: “standing upon for citizens”

    Standing up?

    Thanks for the report. All the pro comments were music to my ears.

  • It’s only mildly reassuring. I note the tacit limitation of “pros” to the “creative community,” and Tim Cook is a VERY precise speaker when on the record. Apple’s concept of what a Pro user is, may vary from many Professional’s own opinions, who’s needs may not be in sync with what Apple offers us.

    But I’m inclined to dismiss every word of that condescending PR Horseswallop until they, not announce, but actually SHIP something worthy of professional attention. The Mac Pro is effectively a DEAD computer no professional in his right mind should buy now, and they’re losing high-end pros in DROVES.

    • Caleb Hightower

      Agreed. Judge a man by his actions, not what he says, or in this case, didn’t say.

      • Quite so. The phrase, “You will see us do more in the pro area.” does not mention specific product lines, Apple has been pushing the higher end iMac (now a better machine than the Mac Pro), the MacBook Pro and iPad Pro as the machines for Pro Creatives, NOT the Mac Pro – I find more telling that on Apple’s own Mac page, in the “Compare Mac Models” hero image, the Mac Pro and Mac Mini are not shown or are they mentioned on the page. [ ]

        Actions. As it were.

        • you’re acting as if “pro” only meant “desktop workstation”. it doesn’t; not in Apple parlance anyway. I love my pro MacBook.

          • With all due respect for Apple parlance. Apple does not get to define what a “pro” is, professionals define what “pros” are.

    • newsflash — not all pros use or need a MP. I’m a software dev and the MBPs and iMacs have me more than covered.

      For all the whining online, I have to doubt theres a huge market of must-be-desktop-workstation pros out there. I suspect its more bark than anything. people looove to disparage apple’s decisions.

      • I am a Graphic and Web Designer, and do interact with a fair number of Windows and Linux users. While it’s certainly clear that “Pro” can encompass laptop and tablet users, there is still need, and a preference for desktop machines and workstations also within the Professional Spectrum. “Pro” does not exclude laptop and tablet users, but neither should it exclude desktop and workstation users either.

        I am also well aware of the “markets & money” arguments, that such high-end users are such a small fraction of a small segment of Apple’s revenue stream, utterly dwarfed by the iPhone, that Apple is well justified in de-prioritizing them. No, of course it’s not a large market, but it still IS a market, one that is drifting away from Apple. If they are writing this segment off, then they should just say so, “sorry folks, nothing for you here. I hear HP has some pretty muscular machines, if that’s your thing. Have fun.” I could respect that.

        Now many of us creatives clearly prefer the Mac OS environment and would be happy to stay. But competitive hardware would absolutely help with that. Currently the 2013 MP has specs that are utterly spanked by HPs Xeon machines at a fraction of the cost. So the draw of using Mac OS has to be twice as good for users to rationally (or irrationally) pay the premium. But objectively this is not the case, as Windows and Linux are, while still behind, not nearly as much of a hassle as they once were. So allowing their Mac OS and core applications to languish, accumulate cruft, bugs, and bloat is strategically unsound as well.

        I (and no one else, much) has any idea what’s on Tim Cook’s and Apple’s road map, but on our side, we have to go by what they DO. It’s all we’ve got.

  • “To merge these worlds, you would lose the simplicity of one and the power of the other.” said Cook.

    This’s the wall upon which all the spaghetti of Apple rumor and speculation should be thrown.

    • Mo

      You have a knack for metaphor.