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Cook Says Apple Is ‘Rolling the Dice’ on Future Products

Mark Gurman

(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said he has "never been more optimistic" about where the company is today and where it’s heading. In a pep talk to investors, Cook said the iPhone maker is “planting seeds” and “rolling the dice” on future products that will just “blow you away.”

Speaking at the company’s annual general meeting in Cupertino, California, Cook reiterated that the iPhone maker is still on track to double revenue from services in 2020 from the nearly $25 billion in 2016. Referencing speaking notes on an iPad, Cook touched on several of the company’s product categories.

He said eventually the goal is to lower the price on the $1,200 MacBook Air laptop with a higher-resolution screen and said there’s a “long, great roadmap of fantastic” products related to the Apple Watch and AirPods. He indicated that more health features would come to the smartwatch.

Apple shares rose more than 1 percent in afternoon trading Friday in New York. The stock was down before Cook started speaking.

Investors are waiting for Apple to come up with a next big thing as demand for its best-selling product, the iPhone, slows, leading to the company’s first holiday-quarter sales decline since 2001. Cook has often mentioned augmented reality as a game changing technology and Apple is working on a pair of AR glasses. In the meantime, the company is focusing on a growing services businesses and rising sales of other devices like the Watch and AirPods. Cook noted that Apple bought 18 companies in 2018 and is constantly on the lookout for more acquisitions.

The CEO also fielded questions from investors about privacy, diversity and politics. In an apparent jab at Facebook Inc. and Google, Cook criticized companies that build data profiles of their users, and reiterated that Apple is pushing for regulation against such practice. One shareholder noted that although Apple management’s political opinion appears to differ from the Trump administration’s, the company has still been able to successfully to work with the U.S. government.

At Apple’s recommendation, shareholders rejected a proposal to disclose the ideology of board nominees. Those in favor of the proposal indicated their desire for Apple’s board to have a more diverse set of political opinions, and one shareholder said the board needs more shareholder input.

Shareholders rejected a proposal to give wider access to nominate board members. The entire board, which includes Cook, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger, was re-elected.

One shareholder criticized Apple for donating $1 million to the Southern Poverty Law Center in the wake of the violent Charlottesville, Virginia, attack in 2017. The shareholder indicated that if Apple’s board was more diverse politically, the company might not have made the donation. Much of the room clapped when another shareholder rebuked the suggestion that Apple shouldn’t have given money to the center, which monitors hate groups and combats discrimination.

(Updates with Apple shares in fourth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Gurman in San Francisco at mgurman1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Molly Schuetz, Alistair Barr

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