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Tim Cook Talks Pandemic, Regulation, and More at Annual Apple Shareholder’s Meeting

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On February 23, Apple held its 2021 annual meeting of shareholders, hosted by CEO Tim Cook.

Cook took questions from investors today as the company held its annual shareholders meeting, touching on “exciting things ahead for the iPhone” and “great things ahead for computing,” as well as Apple’s response to remote working, App Store scrutiny, the year ahead, and more.

The meeting saw Cook describe 2020 as one of the company’s most innovative years to date, thanks to the introduction of the first three Apple Silicon Mac models, the iPhone 12, AirPods Max, and more.

Speaking about regulation and the App Store, Cook stated:

“In a little over a decade, the App Store has delivered a software revolution for users and an economic miracle for millions of entrepreneurs, creators, small businesses, and successful larger developers. Our focus now is to carry forward the success of the App Store ecosystem and make it even stronger through efforts like the App Store Small Business Program.

Apple doesn’t have a dominant position in any market we compete in. Not in any product category, not in any service category, and not in software or apps. This competitive marketplace pushes all of us to be better. So while scrutiny is always fair, accusations like these fall apart after a reasonable examination of the facts.”

Cook also touched on the COVID-19 pandemic and Apple’s response to remote work:

“We’ve been primarily remote since March of last year. We’ve got nearly a year under our belt right now, and I would tell you we’re still learning new things. I would say that I’m incredibly impressed with our teams and their resiliency. The fact that we have had this remarkable run of innovation and creativity of the past year is a testament to their work, undertaking during a really challenging time.

There’s enormous benefit to getting teams together in the office, but when the pandemic made business as usual impossible, we innovated and adapted. Sometimes we found more and better ways to collaborate across teams and reach our customers virtually. I still think there’s no substitute for meeting face to face, but we’ve also found that there are some things that actually work really well virtually. We’ve used this unusual time as an opportunity to help challenge the status quo. We’re developing new skills, capacities, and flexibility that will serve us incredibly well in the long run.

Despite a global pandemic, we had one of our most prolific years ever, with virtual launch events that let us share our strongest lineup of products ever with the world. And at the same time, we’ve used our skills to support our communities at a time of need.“

Cook also address the issue of Apple and political contributions.

“Our policy on political contributions is a very simple one: we don’t make them. We don’t have a political action committee, we never have, we never will. Our approach to engagement, now and always, is about policy, not politics. There are places where that means we will speak up and speak out. We’re not in the business of making political contributions and that’s the right approach.”

Shareholders used Tuesday’s meeting to ask other questions, too. One of these gave Cook an opportunity to speak about one of his favorite topics: privacy. In his response, he made it clear that developing new products doesn’t inevitably mean exposing the personal information of users.

“We believe innovation and privacy go hand in hand,” said Cook.

He cited the privacy “nutrition labels” Apple recently added to the App Store. And the the option iPhone and iPad users will soon have to prevent apps from tracking them.

In the meeting, Cook also praised Apple’s resilience despite the pandemic, repeating many of the sentiments he’s expressed in previous conference calls with analysts and during Apple product events, about how this year represented a significant challenge.

Cook also noted that Apple’s acquisition strategy hasn’t changed, with the company buying a company every month or so. And though employees appear to be successfully working remotely, Cook said he’s looking forward to when they’ll be back in the office again.

Check out the entire transcript of the meeting over at PED30.

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