Did Tim Cook Truly Stir up an All Things Digital Thunderstorm Yesterday?

By Tony Rizzo May 29, 2013

Uh, well, actually he didn't. And in not doing so he met our expectations in their entirety. Apple CEO Tim Cook has become a master of the subtle art of lowering expectations, hinting about new technology without ever revealing what exactly Apple has up its sleeve, dropping hints of potentially strategic misdirection and eliciting an always earnest sounding "gee whiz, you'll be amazed at what game changing stuff we've got coming just a bit down the road that we've been working on for some time."

So we have "hints" of wearable technology, smart watches, a new iOS7 - with a Jony Ive design he is ecstatic about and possibly some nifty device upgrades. Oh, and he doesn't think Google Glass will have much mass consumer appeal (though perhaps there will be "vertical" applications for it). We also now know for certain that Apple did not put in a bid for Waze and that Cook feels Apple Maps is making significant progress.

So far we've seen headlines ranging from "Big Wearable Tech Coming from Apple" to “Cook Disses Glasses" to…well, pretty much everything under the sun, including the dumbest headline of all, the one noting that “Tim Cook Sports a White iPhone” (and its true, at least yesterday he was sporting a white iPhone!). Following a roughly 90-minute combined conversation with those paragons of eliciting enormously insider information on stage - Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, the two MCs of D: All Things Digital, aka AllThingsD, aka (this year) D11 (among other related events) - and an audience Q&A session, we can summarize the entire thing as we did in the first paragraph above.

The three are shown below, with the photo courtesy of the AllThingsD website. We particularly like the old school Wall Street Journal drawing of Cook.

There was a bit more. The conversation began at 6:15 p.m. PT and ran to roughly 7:45 p.m., with Mossberg asking his first question: Is Apple in trouble? Cook responded, “Absolutely not.” The entire 90 minutes more or less percolated along this trajectory. Cook says he feels "pretty good," even if the stock's decline has been a source of ongoing frustration and antitrust issues, and doing battle with the federal government over e-Books (Apple has done nothing wrong per Cook), sometimes get in the way. But dealing with and fighting these battles…it's all in a day's work.

Cook held his ground on the whole ridiculous Apple tax issue - and for good measure he noted that the entire tax code needs to be gutted and built over from the ground up. Is there anyone who disagrees with this? Of course Apple makes up for its offshore tax strategies by being monumentally green and ecofriendly here at home, to the point where the company has just hired the recent and now former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, to lead their ecofriendly efforts.

Exactly as he did last year, Cook maintained that "TV remains an area of incredible interest." Financial analysts will likely build full detailed product announcement reports and theories around that statement (just as they did last year). Following this came the inevitable sop to wearable technology. Here's the summary: Cook wears a Nike Fuelband - it does one thing and does it quite well. He notes that devices that try to do more than one thing tend to not do them very well. When asked if Apple will be bringing a product out Cook exclaimed that he "…doesn't want to answer that one."

Then came the "huge" hint on wearable technology, with Cook - the master of subtle arts - noting that "the wrist is interesting." He followed that up with, "…it's not just about the wrist." Of such stuff are sensational headlines about Apple smart watches created. By the way, has anyone noted the supposed hint of an Apple watch in Apple's most recent ads? Finally, on wearable tech, he noted that the entire sensor market is going to explode - but we all already know this.

We'll leave the usual chatter about Android, different screen sizes, Facebook Chats integration and other related stuff that's out there out of this quick summary - there was nothing to note that we haven't heard many times before. It was in essence all replays. We'll also leave the Q&A out of our discussion as that also uncovered nothing new - though there were some interesting questions that tried to get Cook to reveal more of an Apple vision for the next five years or so - but the master of subtle arts was not to be outdone - and the audience may have left the room feeling unfulfilled. But really, was anyone really anticipating more?

The reality, of course, is that Apple's 2013 World Wide Developers' Conference (WWDC) is just a few weeks down the road. And as we've noted numerous times this is where Tim Cook the master of subtle arts needs to morph into Tim Cook the maker of truly magical things. The innovation line in the proverbial sand for Apple is drawn with WWDC 2013 as far as we are concerned.

The time is now at hand to deliver not prognostications and excitement about the future but real - very real - magical stuff.

Edited by Alisen Downey

TechZone360 Senior Editor

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