Tim Cook plays coy on Apple TV, wearables at conference

Apple's CEO insists that Apple has not lost its cool but declines to comment on those rumored products that many expect to help the company maintain that status.

Apple CEO Tim Cook at the AllThingsD conference in Southern California on Tuesday. AllThingsD

While defending Apple's profile and reputation, Tim Cook was predictably more tight-lipped Tuesday night on other topics, mostly notably much-rumored products that may be in the pipeline.

During an onstage interview at the All Things D conference in Palos Verdes, Calif., Cook insisted that Apple has "absolutely not" lost its cool factor and brushed off suggestions that Apple was losing the mobile OS war because Android accounted for more unit sales.

"For us, winning has never been about making the most," he said. "We make the best phone, we don't make the most phones."

Cook also told interviewers Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher that he was frustrated by the company's stock performance of late and suggested they talk about products instead. However, he declined to comment on those that most interest company observers, including a rumored overhaul to Apple TV and the rumored smartwatch commonly known as "iWatch."

Cook proudly revealed that Apple has sold more than 13 million Apple TV devices -- half of those set-top box devices were sold last year. But when pressed for specifics about Apple's vision for the device by Swisher, Cook responded bluntly: "I don't want to answer that."

He then emphasized that he considered the topic closed. "I don't want to go any further on this -- I don't want to give anyone any ideas that they don't have," he said.

Cook was similarly elusive on the topic of wearable computers, calling " profoundly interesting " and an area that was "ripe for exploration."

"Lots of companies will play in this space," he said before declining to answer whether Apple would be one of those companies.

But he did have a few nuggets of information to sprinkle on the crowd, including the confirmation that Apple chief design guru Jony Ive has been working on an overhauled iOS and that its APIs could be opened a bit to third parties. And although he declined to offer much insight into the changes afoot, Cook did announce that Apple would be "rolling out the future" of the mobile operating system, as well as OS X, its desktop cousin, at the World Wide Developers Conference in June.

The interview also touched on a number of legal issues facing the company, including accusations of tax avoidance. Cook denied that the company was exploiting the tax system to shortchange the United States Treasury, saying "We don't use tax gimmicks."

Cook also denied that the company violated any antitrust laws as alleged in its upcoming lawsuit over e-book price fixing and said his company never had any plans to settle with the government.

"We're not going to sign a settlement that says we did something we didn't do," he said. "So we're going to fight."

Other tidbits revealed during the wide-ranging interview included that the company had acquired nine companies since last October but it had revealed only those it was legally required to.

While Apple's been snatching up smaller companies, it hasn't made any big purchases despite having plenty of cash to burn. Cook said the company is not looking at big acquisitions at the moment, but wouldn't rule one out if the company made a product that was a good fit for the Apple culture.

Cook also revealed that Apple had hired Lisa Jackson , the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to guide its environmental footprint. During her tenure at the EPA, Jackson focused on air quality, climate change and water quality, along with cleanup from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

 

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