By Alexei Oreskovic
RANCHOS PALOS VERDES, Calif., May 28 (Reuters) - Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook said on Tuesday he expects the iPhone and iPad maker would be responsible for “several more gamechangers” and that wearable computers could be the next big thing.
“It’s an area where it’s ripe for exploration,” Cook told an All Things Digital conference, an annual gathering of technology and media executives in the California coastal resort town of Rancho Palos Verdes.
“It’s ripe for us all getting excited about. I think there will be tons of companies playing in this.”
His remarks come at a time when worries are mounting that the company which created the smartphone and tablet markets is no longer at the top of its game, with a slowdown in earnings growth hitting its share price.
Cook stopped short of saying if Apple was working on wearable products, but added that wearable computers had to be compelling and that Google Inc’s Glass -- a cross between a mobile computer and eyeglasses that can both record video and surf the Internet -- is likely to have only limited appeal.
“There’s nothing that’s going to convince a kid who has never worn glasses or a band or a watch to wear one, or at least I haven’t seen it,” he said. “So I think there’s lots of things to solve in this space.”
Cook also said he has a “grand vision” for television that goes beyond an existing $99 Apple TV streaming device, but did not go into details. The company has maintained for years that it harbors an interest in the TV arena.
When asked if Apple has lost its cool, Cook said “absolutely not” and went on to list statistics of device sales and usage. He, however, acknowledged that he was frustrated with the sudden downturn in the firm’s stock price.
Since hitting a record close of $702.10 last September, the world’s largest technology company has shed 44 percent, losing more than $280 billion of market value - or more than the entire market capitalization of Google.
In April, Apple reported its first quarterly profit decline in over a decade and was also shunned by some well-known fund managers in the first quarter, with John Griffin’s Blue Ridge Capital selling off its shares and Chase Coleman’s Tiger Global Management sharply cutting their position.
Cook has tried to reset heightened expectations around the company and he has stressed that the company’s position remains strong and has opened up more of its treasure trove to investors, doubling its cash return program to $100 billion by the end of 2015.
Cook’s appearance at the conference follows his grilling by a Senate panel last week about Apple’s tax management strategy.
The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has found that Apple in 2012 avoided paying $9 billion in U.S. taxes, using a strategy involving three offshore units with no discernible tax home, or “residence”.
But Cook, in his first congressional testimony since becoming Apple CEO in 2011, said his company is a major taxpayer, handing over nearly $6 billion in cash to the U.S. government in 2012.
Referring to the testimony, Cook said he felt strongly about the conclusions the subcommittee arrived at.
“So I thought it was very important to go tell our story and to view that as an opportunity instead of a pain in the ass.”