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Apple’s Tim Cook talks crypto, NFTs, the metaverse and Steve Jobs

By Andrew Knoll

23:48, 9 November 2021

Apple MacBook
Apple MacBook - Credit: Unsplash

Apple CEO Tim Cook tackled a broad spectrum of contemporary topics, including the position of cryptocurrency in Apple’s business and his own portfolio, in a discussion with The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin on Tuesday.

While some companies from Citibank to Tesla have engaged cryptocurrency as a means of payment, to establish a proprietary currency or as part of the investments in their corporate treasury, Cook said Apple has no such plans.

“Our cash balance, I wouldn’t go invest it in crypto,” Cook said. “Not because I wouldn't invest my own money in crypto, but because I don’t think people buy an Apple stock to get exposure to crypto.”

Diversified portfolio

Cook, who is generally guarded, said that he has cryptocurrency among his investments and considers it to be a “reasonable” component of a diversified portfolio. That did not mean, however, that it would become part of Apple’s mix.

“I’m not planning to, in the immediate future, to take crypto for our products as a means of tender,” Cook said. “But there are other things that we are definitely looking at.”

NFTs and the Metaverse

Cook said he thinks NFTs are “interesting,” but still largely beyond the financial reach and overall grasp of the average person.

While Cook declined to comment on recent announcements from other major tech companies surrounding the Metaverse, he said that there would need to be myriad technological advancements to realise the vision of the Metaverse laid out by some. He did, however, say that Augmented Reality was very much “alive and well” with Apple leading the way in terms of the scale and scope of its AR platforms.

“We’ve always said that AR is a core technology, and it’s a technology I get super excited about,” Cook said. “I think it’s profound in terms of the things that you can do with it and the enhancement to people’s lives … but humanity has to be at the center of it.”

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Privacy and the legacy of Steve Jobs

Cook has been Apple’s CEO since 2011, when his predecessor and the company’s co-founder Steve Jobs died at 56.  Cook reiterated his esteem for Jobs, acknowledging his influence and saying that he thinks Jobs would be proud of what Apple is doing for people with its products today.

Amid a multitude of privacy concerns on the Web and particularly through social media, Cook said that Jobs had the foresight to position Apple in a way that quickly addressed such concerns.

“He really geared the company decades ago to fight for people’s privacy,” Cook said. “He said something very simple: ‘people should know what they’re signing up for.’”

A recent report indicated that Apple’s tracking transparency policy may have cost social media platforms nearly $10bn (£7.4bn) in revenue in the months since it has taken effect. Cook said that he appreciates such transparency, and opts for a mix of prohibiting data tracking, limiting it or allowing it unfettered, all depending on who’s asking.

“I’m not sure you really know definitively, but you have a feel,” Cook said. “I think the companies that are more trusted are likely getting very different results than those that are not trusted.”

 

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