Gears & Gadgets

Tim Cook points at new services and health-tech propelling Apple’s future

Apple CEO Tim Cook delivering a speech.
Enlarge / Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) in Brussels.

In an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer, Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted at what we can expect to see from the iPhone maker in the short- and long-term future. Namely, Cook confirmed that Apple will debut new services in 2019 even if the CEO didn’t divulge any details.

Apple’s services business, which currently includes Apple Music, iTunes, the App Store, and other entities, brings a lot of money into the company. Last quarter, the services business hit a milestone of $ 10 billion in revenue, and Apple shows no signs of slowing down.

“We built a services business that was, you know, a little over $ 7 billion in 2010,” Cook said in the CNBC interview. “Last year, for the calendar year, over $ 41 billion…. We’ve said that, you know, we’re gonna double the 2016 numbers by 2020.”

Cook didn’t name it specifically, but it’s likely that Apple will announce its long-awaited TV streaming service in early 2019. Last year, the company pledged $ 1 billion to produce and acquire original content with which to populate the streaming service. Some of that money has gone to big stars both in front of and behind the camera, including Damien Chazelle (director of La La Land), A24 studio (the production company behind films including Moonlight and Lady Bird), and Oprah Winfrey.

It’s unclear how Apple will distribute its streaming service once it’s announced. Some speculate that it will be free for Apple device owners, while others suggest that Apple will make the service available on all platforms.

Yes to wearables, no to Qualcomm

But Cook could be hinting at other services that haven’t leaked yet. He put a big emphasis on healthcare in the interview, claiming that health will be what most remember Apple for in the long run.

“On the healthcare, in particular, and sort of your wellbeing, this is an area that I believe, if you zoom out into the future and you look back and you ask the question ‘What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind?’ It will be about health,” Cook said. “Because our business has always been about enriching people’s lives.”

Apple’s first step deep into health was the release of the Apple Watch in 2015. The newest Apple Watch Series 4 elevates the wearable to a different kind of health tracker with the inclusion of electrodes to monitor possible signs of atrial fibrillation. It’s hard to say what the next iterations of the Apple Watch will be able to do, but it’s safe to say that Apple will continue to add to it (both in hardware and software) to make it an even more powerful health tool.

Cook also touted the strength of Apple’s wearables: revenue from the Apple Watch and Apple’s AirPods have exceeded the iPod’s revenues when the music player was “at its peak.”

“On a trailing basis, we’ve already exceeded—the revenue for wearables is already more than 50 percent more than iPod was at its peak,” Cook said.

Cook took a stern approach when asked about Qualcomm and the legal problems Apple has been having with the chip maker as of late. Cook said that the two companies aren’t in active talks about settlements, and he took aim at what Apple considers Qualcomm’s illegal handling of its policies surrounding licensing and chips.

“The issue that we have with Qualcomm is that they have a policy of no license, no chips. This is, in our view, illegal,” Cook stated. “And so many regulators in many different countries agree with this. And then secondly, they have an obligation to offer their patent portfolio on a fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory basis. And they don’t do that. They charge exorbitant prices. And they have a lot of different tactics they use to do that.”

Apple and Qualcomm have been quarreling for a while. Most recently, Apple was forced to pull iPhone 7 and 8 models in Germany due to a patent ruling in Qualcomm’s favor. Stateside, the Federal Trade Commission accused Qualcomm of abusing its licensing for its mobile chip patents. That trial begins this Friday—a ruling against Qualcomm would mean a big win for Apple, which still has pending lawsuits against the chipmaker.

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Tech – Ars Technica