Although Apple’s first wireless gamble paid off immensely, the company isn’t ready for more experimentation just yet. On Apple’s first quarter earnings call held this afternoon, Apple’s fill-in CEO Tim Cook shot down rumors of an iPhone Nano and a Mac version of the netbook, a mini-laptop made for mobile users.
When questioned on Apple’s plans for the non-contractual markets that the iPhone is in, Cook said that Apple is now in more than 70 countries and is constantly re-evaluating the best way to play there. But, playing in the low-end VoIP phone business won’t be the answer. “That’s not who we are,” he said. “That’s not why we’re here. We’ll let somebody do that, our goal is not to be the unit share leader in the phone industry. It is to build the best phone.”
Turns out, Apple doesn’t like others sharing this goal either. The iPhone has inspired a rash of imitators, of which Cook said Apple likes the competition because it makes them better. But in a seeming shot against Palm and its new Pre device, Cook threatened, “We like competition as long as they don’t rip off our IP. And if they do, we will go after anyone who does.”
When netbooks came up, Cook said that Apple is watching that space, but the products are not something that consumers want, a sentiment echoed by a Biz360 study this week despite their relative success in 2008. The hardware is less powerful, the software technology is not good, the keyboards are cramped and the displays are too small, Cook added to illustrate his point.
“We don’t think people will be pleased with those products,” he said on the call. “It’s a category we watch. We’ve got some ideas here, but right now we think the products are inferior and will not provide an experience to customers they’re happy with.”
The no branching out mindset applied to Apple TV as well, a product Steve Jobs dubbed a hobby last year. With sales up three times versus this time last year, Cook said that the movie rental business has helped out Apple TV as more consumers believe there is something there for them. While the over-the-top video platform saw a tremendous pick up year over year, Cook confirmed - still just a hobby.
Apple has good reason not to worry about new products and the living room space today. The company posted record sales and profits for Q1. iPhone sales were up 88% percent compared to last year with 4.4 million sold in the first quarter. Overall, the company reported its highest revenues of $10.17 billion and profits of $1.61 billion, beating out Wall Street estimates.
Cook didn’t have much to stay about Jobs and his current health-related leave of absence, which the Securities and Exchange Commission is now looking into. When asked if he would continue as CEO if it came to that, he only noted that Apple has an extraordinary amount of depth in its executive team, and it is doing the best work in its history.