Willkommen auf » Apple Tim Cook über seine Pläne und Android, Motorola, größere iPhones

Apple Tim Cook über seine Pläne und Android, Motorola, größere iPhones

Apple-Chef Tim Cook sagte, die besten Tage des Unternehmens liegen noch vor uns. Das ist keine besonders ungewöhnliche Nachricht, die man von einem CEO hört. Aber Apple steht vor großen Herausforderungen, die Wachstumsraten beim iPhone stagnieren und Apples innovativer Vorsprung kommt langsam zu einem Ende. Cook gab am Donnerstag ein ausführliches Interview dem Journal’s Daisuke Wakabayashi. Nach dem Break einige Auszüge

WSJ: There is a perception that Apple’s no longer a growth company. How do you respond to that?

Cook: Last year, we grew (revenue) by $14 billion to $15 billion. Yes, those percentages are smaller compared to a year earlier and two years earlier and so forth. But that doesn’t mean that you’re not a growth company. We were in hyper-growth, or whatever is above growth. We went from $65 billion to over $100 billion to $150 billion to $170 billion. These are historic, unprecedented numbers. I don’t know any companies adding growth at that level. So when you say $14 billion to $15 billion compared to those numbers, it’s clearly smaller and a smaller percentage, but, to put it in some context, that’s like adding three Fortune 500 companies in a year. I think that’s hard to say that’s not a growth company.

[The last quarter] was an interesting quarter in a lot of ways. It was our highest revenue ever. It was our best iPhone sales, best iPad sales and one of our best Mac quarters ever and this is in an environment where the PC industry is shrinking. And we grow by 19%, that’s pretty fantastic.

We always look at the underlying health of our businesses. And what I mean by that is we look at sell-through because that’s what’s most important to us. About 70% of our business is indirect, 30% is direct. In that 70%, we look at great detail of what’s selling through. So when you look at the sell through, the iPhone was actually higher than the sell-in so I care more about that.

WSJ: What’s happening in emerging markets?

Cook: One of the challenges for us for the last few years is to begin to penetrate in emerging markets. If you look at the Mac and iPod, these products did exceptionally well in the developed markets – in the U.S., in Australia, UK, France, Germany and Japan — but the iPod never really took off in emerging markets. The Mac has sold some units in emerging markets but not large units. So it was really iPhone that was Apple’s first product that really introduced a large number of people in China, Russia, Brazil, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines. And last quarter, those set of countries grew over 30%.

In China, if you look at the last 12 months, we’ve done $29 billion to $30 billion in revenue there in greater China. I don’t know of any other American company that does that kind of business in China or anywhere close. These are things that we’re really proud of and we worked really hard at.

The China Mobile roll-out of LTE (fourth-generation wireless) takes place over a year. And even with adding China Mobile, we still only present our products to two-thirds of the subscribers in the world. In fact, this quarter, we’ll sign on 50 new carriers.

WSJ: Was the weakness in developed countries?

Cook: North America was a challenge. We had no growth basically as you could see from our results and that of course pulls down the top line because the weight is so large.

Japan is a very key market for us. Japan is roughly 9% of our revenue. This is strange for a U.S. company to have that percentage of revenue in Japan. The dollar has gotten so strong that last quarter, our revenue growth in Japan was 11%. At constant currency from year before, it would have been 37%. When you lose 26 points on a currency conversion and it’s 9% (of the total), it takes off a couple of points on the macro-side.

WSJ: You’ve said Apple will be entering new product categories in 2014. Does that include new improvements to existing products?

Cook: It goes to the heart of what is innovation. We’ve had a prolific period of innovation. We’ve had enormous new products over the last several months with the iPad Air, the iPad Mini with Retina display. We’ve had Mavericks (the new Macintosh operating system). We’ve had iOS 7. We’ve had iTunes Radio. Basically we re-did the entire Macintosh line. We came out with two phones at the same time for the first time ever with the iPhone 5C and the iPhone 5S. And the dream of using your fingerprint for authentication has come true. Innovation at Apple is alive and well. But all of that being said, we can do more.

We don’t believe we can do things at the level of quality and link things as we want to between hardware, software and services so seamlessly if we do a lot of stuff. So we’re going to stick with our knitting with only doing a few things and doing them great. There will be new categories and we’re working on some great stuff. We’re not ready to talk about it. We’re really working on some really great stuff. I think no one reasonable would say they’re not a new category.

I think Apple can grow well with great improvements and new products on its existing category of products. We haven’t exactly hit a ceiling with products like the iPhone. There are still a lot of people buying feature phones. There are a lot of people still buying smartphones that they use like a feature phone but it’s labeled as a smartphone.

We said early on that the tablet business would be bigger than the PC business. If anything, that’s happening sooner than we thought. There’s still a lot of PCs being sold and a lot of those users would have a better experience on an iPad than a PC. We still view that as an opportunity.

And we haven’t given up on the Mac. A lot of people are throwing in the towel right now on the PC. We’re still spending an enormous amount on really great talent and people on the Macs of the future. And we have some really cool things coming out there. Because we believe as people walk away from the PC, it becomes clear that the Mac is what you want if you want a PC.

We don’t think about our size and we don’t manage the company like a big company, but we did sell $171 billion worth of stuff last year.

WSJ: Does market share in smartphones matter to you? You often say Apple wants to make the best, not the most?

Cook: I look at the mobile phone market as having three kinds of phones: feature phones, smartphones that function as or are used as feature phones, and real smartphones. I care about the market share of the last one. I don’t care how many feature phones are sold. The more that are sold I look at as good because those are all potential future customers for real smartphones. The same thing goes for the second category. I’d like to convert as many of those as possible to real smartphones.

Once again, I do care about that last category and you want to be relevant. (Among true smartphones), we’re number one in the U.S., we’re number one in Canada, we’re number one in Japan, we’re number two in Western Europe, we’re number two in Eastern Europe. We’re number two in Asia when you take Japan out. So in most geographies, in most major regions of the world, we’re one or two. Would I like to be one in the places where we are two? You better believe it. If there is a way we can do that without changing where our line is on a great product, then we’re going to do it. But what we’re not going to do is we’re not going to make junk. We’re not going to put Apple’s brand on something someone else designed.

I don’t view that as being satisfied with being small or however you want to define it. It’s not saying that market share is irrelevant or not important. I’ve never said that. I just always tried to say that the macro thing for us is to make a great product and we must do that.

WSJ: People want a bigger screen iPhone. Are you against that?

Cook: What we’ve said is that until the technology is ready, we don’t want to cross that line. That doesn’t say we’ll never do it. We want to give our customers what’s right in all respects – not just the size but in the resolution, in the clarity, in the contrast, in the reliability. There are many different parameters to measure a display and we care about all those, because we know that’s the window to the software.

WSJ: Will the smartphone market follow the PC market, where Apple is a niche player?

Cook: I don’t view it that way. There are several reasons. If you look back at the Mac/Windows battle that was going on at the time, you’d find that one of the things that was the catalyst for separating Mac from Windows share was applications. There was a vast, vast difference in the number of applications that was available for the Macintosh than what was available on Windows. Over time, that gap grew and grew and grew. And in fact, the Mac began to lose some key applications. We have over a million apps on iOS. We have over half-million that have been optimized for iPad. That half-million compares to 1,000 for Android tablets. That’s one of the reasons, although not the only reason, why the experience on Android tablets is so crappy because the app is nothing more than a stretched out smartphone app.

The other thing is that Windows pretty much was one thing. Android is like Europe. Europe was a name that somebody came up with for Americans who didn’t understand that Europe was a lot of countries that weren’t like U.S. states. They were very different. Android is many things. How many people who use a Kindle know that they’re using Android? And you see what Samsung is doing by putting more and more software on top. I think it’s night and day. The compare is so off.

So, no, I don’t see it as same. And I’m not saying this just because I am at Apple because I do understand the PC world at that time because I was in it. It was totally different. If you really talk to the people who went through it and understood it at a deep level, I don’t think any of them would tell you it’s the same.

WSJ: What did you think of Google selling MotorolaMSI +1.89% to Lenovo?

Cook: I wasn’t surprised. It seems like a logical transaction. Google gets rid of something that’s losing money, something that they’re not committed to. I think it’s really hard to do hardware, software and services and to link all those things together. That’s what makes Apple so special. It’s really hard, so I’m not surprised that they are not going to do that.

WSJ: Some investors want you to be more aggressive about returning cash. What’s your view?

Cook: We started to return (cash) to shareholders in 2012. It was a combination of dividends and share repurchases. We more than doubled the program in 2013. When we did that, we became one of the largest dividend payers in the world and we had the largest share repurchase program in history. We recognize that we have more money than we need to run our business and invest for the future and invest in new products and acquire new companies and invest in capex, etc. We fully recognized that. We even said after we more than doubled it that we’re going to look at this thing every year. And each time we do this, we go back out to shareholders and listen to them. They’re owners of the company. We’re looking at tax policy. It’s a fairly complex set of things to consider. It’s not a simple thing.

But we also wanted a program that’s flexible. We wanted to take advantage of opportunities that came our way. Those opportunities may be acquisitions. In the last 15 months, we’ve acquired 21 companies. We’re doing it low-key. We’re not making big announcements about these. It shows that we’re looking a lot. I think we’ve made smart purchases.

WSJ: What about Carl Icahn’s proxy proposal to distribute another $50 billion in cash by September, beyond your existing plans?

Cook: We think you want a cash-return program that’s flexible. We may see a huge company tomorrow that we want to acquire or something may happen in the stock market that’s unpredictable. You want to be able to adjust for the long-term interest of the shareholders, not for the short-term shareholder, not for the day trader.

We’re trying to build a company for the long term, so that’s how we look at these decisions. We’re still re-evaluating, getting shareholder input and in March or April, we’ll be out with how we’re going to update the plan that we announced last year. In the meantime, we’re executing to what we announced but in a much more accelerated way because of the opportunity that existed.

WSJ: Apple has never made a billion-dollar acquisition. Google is snapping up everyone including your old friends at Nest. Does this alter how you think about bigger deals?

Cook: We’ve looked at big companies. We don’t have a predisposition not to buy big companies. The money is also not burning a hole in our pocket where we say let’s make a list of 10 and pick the best one. We’re not doing that. We have no problem spending ten figures for the right company that’s the right and that’s in the best interest of Apple in the long-term. None. Zero.

Quelle wsj.com

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