Apple's annual shareholders meeting took place this morning in a virtual format, allowing shareholders to vote on proposals and submit questions to Apple executives. Apple does not typically reveal product info in shareholder meetings, and 2021 was no exception. Much of what was said was a recap of the Q1 earnings results and a reiteration of Apple's policies on privacy, the environment, and other core values.
Apple CEO Tim Cook told shareholders that 2020 was a period of prolific innovation. "Apple makes the best, most useful, most innovative, most trusted products out there, and this year, we took that mission to another level," said Cook.
Cook declined to provide specific details on any upcoming products, but said there are "exciting things ahead for the iPhone" and "great things ahead for computing." Apple is working on new iPhone 13 models that will follow the iPhone 12 lineup, plus there are rumors of revamped and redesigned iMacs and MacBook Pro models that will feature even more powerful Apple silicon chips.
The AirPods Max are "hugely popular with reviewers and users alike," and the HomePod mini was described as "another hit" during the holiday season.
Cook said that Apple has acquired close to 100 companies over the course of the last six years. "We're not afraid to look at acquisitions of any size," said Cook. "Focus is on small, innovative companies that complement our products and help push them forward."
On the topic of the environment, Cook said that Apple is on track to meet its "most ambitious goal yet," which is to be carbon neutral across its entire supply chain by 2030. Meeting this goal is a companywide effort and that Apple's innovations and breakthroughs are setting it apart. "We firmly believe that all companies -- if they hope to be competitive in the future -- have to begin with leadership in this area," said Cook. Apple is also aiming to make all of its products without extracting anything from the earth in the future, and the "moonshot nature" of this goal has "created enormous energy internally" to make big changes. Apple in 2020 eliminated power adapters and headphones from iPhone packaging, which the company said was done to further environmental goals and reduce waste.
"I've always believed that the time to speak out is the time when you've got something to say," said Cook on a question asking why Apple was speaking out on privacy at this time. Cook said that he hopes Apple's efforts to improve privacy both in the App Store and in apps with App Privacy labels and App Transparency requirements will be a "ripple in the pond" moving the whole industry forward. Apple continues to support a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States and worldwide laws and international agreements to protect the "fundamental rights of privacy everywhere."
On navigating the challenges of the pandemic, Cook said that Apple is still learning new things, but the "remarkable run of innovation and creativity" is a testament to employee resilience during a trying time. Apple employees adapted and collaborated better, but Cook said there is "no substitute for meeting face to face" and that most Apple employees "can't wait" to gather in the office again.
Cook also spoke on diversity and inclusion, pay equity at Apple, Apple TV+, App Store regulation, Apple's education goals, and, interestingly, Apple's identity.
In so many ways, the world has changed, but in fundamental ways, Apple has not. Apple is made up of people who want to spend their lives making things that enrich the lives of others, making them more fulfilled, more creative, and more human. We're comfortable saying no to a lot of things and laser focused on the areas where we can have the greatest impact, innovating relentlessly. Technology made by people, for people, and with people's well being in mind. At its best and most hopeful, technology should help us leave the world better than we found it.
Looking forward to the future, Cook said that he doesn't see challenges in 2021, but opportunities that will need to be managed "creatively, intelligently, and diligently." Cook said that across the current iPhone, Mac, and Apple Watch product lineups, there's never been a set of products with a "greater degree of future potential."
Cook said that there's never been a more challenging environment that Apple has operated in than this year's pandemic, but he is optimistic about the future and Apple is always thinking about how to help communities emerge stronger, fair and equitable recovery, and "how all of that can be helped by world class technology that puts humanity at its heart."