At Friday’s annual meeting of Apple shareholders, CEO Tim Cook was clearly ready to field questions about the company’s ongoing battle with the FBI over encryption. But nobody there seemed very interested in discussing it.
The FBI wants the Cupertino, California, tech company to help it unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters. But Apple refuses, arguing that doing so would set a dangerous precedent and make all its users less safe.
Apple has challenged a court order to unlock the iPhone in question, citing freedom of speech.
Cook brought up the ongoing battle, unbidden, during his prepared remarks to the assembled Apple shareholders: “Some of you may have questions on that,” he said, to applause.
But overall, shareholders didn’t seem that curious about the Apple-FBI fight, even if it’s all that the tech world is talking about. Given that Apple’s stock price hasn’t moved much, even amid these battles, it seems like they don’t consider it much of a risk.
“We do this because this is the right thing to do. Being hard doesn’t scare us,” Cook elaborated in his remarks. “I’m incredibly proud to be working for this company at this time with the most unbelievable people in the world.”
That was apparently enough for the gathering of Apple shareholders. Because when Cook ended his remarks, and the opportunity for Q&A from shareholders began — possibly the public’s one and only chance to ask the CEO of the second-most-valuable company in the world a question — none of them even brought it up.
The only further mention of the Apple/FBI issue during the meeting was a prepared statement, not even a question, from Cindy Cohn, executive director of the prominent digital rights nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation. In her statement, Cohn announced that the EFF will be filing an amicus brief in support of Apple next week, joining tech giants Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook.
Otherwise, shareholders had other concerns on their mind: Reverend Jesse Jackson made another appearance to urge Apple towards further diversity within the company; another asked if Apple planned to keep supporting older iPhone models with new iOS operating system software (they are).
One guy asked how Apple planned to pivot towards being a services business when he couldn’t get his Beats Music and Apple Music accounts to sync up (Cook promised someone would take care of his technical issues). Someone else wanted to know how Apple views India, to which Cook responded “we see India as basically where China was 10 years ago,” which is to say, a big opportunity.
Another person asked about the Apple Car, to Cook’s chagrin.
Still, it gave Cook a chance to show off his sometimes-understated sense of humour. One questioner asked if future shareholder meetings would allow them to send Cook their questions ahead of time. A little later, Cook urged shareholders to drop him an email if their question wasn’t addressed during the meeting.
“It’s [email protected],” Cook said, addressing the earlier questioner. “I’m surprised you didn’t know it, it seems like everyone else in the world knows it.”
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