Apple CEO Tim Cook on 2012: ‘We had the mother of all years’

Apple CEO Tim Cook discussed the historic performance of his company during its annual meeting.
(Eric Risberg / Associated Press)

Hundreds and hundreds of mostly regular folks, some from as far away as Florida, lined up in the wee hours of the morning Wednesday to squeeze into an auditorium at Apple’s campus for a little pep talk by Apple team captain Tim Cook.

He’s not really the rah-rah type. But after the formal part of the meeting ended, he sat for 30 minutes on stage for some Q&A.; And he used a fair chunk of that time to remind shareholders that despite the stock price’s dreadful performance in recent months, the company turned in a historic 2012.

“We had the mother of all years,” Cook said.

QUIZ: Test your Apple knowledge


Cook walked through the long list of product releases in 2012, the most ever in its history.

On the iPhone 5, released in September: “It’s absolutely the best iPhone we’ve ever done.”

On the iPad Mini announced in October: “The iPad Mini has gone on to incredible success. Our challenge has been making enough to satisfy our customers.”

The result was $155 billion in revenue that the company reported in 2012, which represented an increase of $48 billion from the year before.

“That growth is more than the growth of Google, Microsoft, Dell, HP, RIM and Nokia combined,” he said.

And that $55 billion in revenue Apple reported for the last quarter?

“This is the largest quarter from any technology company in history,” Cook said.

So, that was 2012. What about 2013?

“I want you folks to know that what we’re focused on is the long term,” Cook said. “We’ve got some great stuff coming.”

Which, of course, Cook won’t disclose. Regarding new categories of products: “We don’t talk about them. But we look at them.”


One shareholder asked about whether the company was going to do more to fight back against the growing market share of products based on Google’s Android operating system.

Cook repeated previous remarks that Apple is not overly concerned with overall market share numbers.

“The focus for us is not making the most,” Cook said. “We want to make the best.”

What happens to companies that want to just make the most?

“Dell is an example of a company that wanted to make the most PCs,” Cook said. “We never wanted to do that.”

If shareholders were looking for a reason to be optimistic, Cook said Apple still believed its current products had enormous growth opportunities. The smartphone market is expected to double by 2016, and the tablet market is supposed to triple by then, Cook said.

Beyond that, there are a number of countries where Apple has just entered the market, and many others where it still doesn’t compete.

“We also find ourselves in these developing countries where we have incredible opportunities,” Cook said. “That said, there are a lot of markets where we don’t sell anything. I look at it as the glass half full. We have a lot of work to do there.”

Some other random remarks from Cook:

On Apple stores: “Retail has become the face of Apple. The experience you have at an Apple store is jaw-dropping.”

On the amount of time people spend on Apple gadgets and the amount of mobile Internet traffic its products drive: “The usage of our products is incredible.... It really speaks to use. That’s what we’re all about. We don’t want people to just buy our products. We want people to love our products.”


The year in Apple: A 2012 timeline

Apple to hand out $100 million in iTunes credits to settle lawsuit

Apple shareholders back management, board at annual meeting

Follow me on Twitter @obrien