Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Apple boss: 'Great stuff' to come

Apple CEO Tim Cook promised the company had 'some great stuff coming' as he addressed shareholders (AP)

Apple boss Tim Cook promised "great stuff" on the way as he sought to reassure shareholders worried about the company's sagging stock price.

"The company is working as hard as ever, and we have some great stuff coming," the chief executive told shareholders before taking questions during the technology giant's annual meeting at its Cupertino, California, headquarters.

True to Apple's secretive nature, Mr Cook did not provide any further product details, although at one point he said the company was considering entering other categories besides its popular line of digital music players, smartphones and tablet computers.

There has been speculation that Apple is working on an internet-connected watch or TV that will be introduced later this year. There were more moments of levity, but the meeting was less celebratory than the events in past years, when Apple's stock price was soaring to the delight and enrichment of its shareholders.

Since hitting an all-time high of 705.07 dollars five months ago, Apple's stock has plunged by 37%. The decline has wiped out collective shareholder wealth totalling 240 billion dollars. That amount exceeds the total market value of Microsoft, which reigned as the most influential company in personal computing until Apple ushered in an era of mobile devices with the 2007 release of the iPhone and the 2010 introduction of the iPad.

Mr Cook, who became CEO shortly before Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died in October 2011, has a huge incentive to get the company's stock price strong again. The 1.1 million Apple shares he owns are worth about 300 million dollars less than they were five months ago. "I don't like it, either," he said of the downturn in Apple's stock.

Apple has not unveiled another trailblazing product since Mr Cook took over, raising concerns about whether the company is losing the ingenuity that has set it apart from the rest of the technology pack. He told shareholders the company's commitment to innovation remained Apple's "North Star" and "the beat of its heart". But his pep talk evidently did not inspire many investors.

Apple's stock shed another 4.40 dollars to close at 444.57. Although Apple is selling more gadgets than ever before, the company's profits and sales are not growing as robustly because of fiercer competition from a multitude of other smartphones and tablet computers, including ones costing less.

Apple's biggest headaches have been caused by Android, a mobile operating system that internet search leader Google gives away to a long list of device makers led by Samsung. There are now an estimated 600 million devices running on Android, giving it a lead over Apple.

Mr Cook said Apple remained more interested in the quality of its products than the quantity sold. "We want to make the best," he said. "That's why we are here."

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