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.