This is Tim: Cook at the 2013 Goldman Sachs conference

In some cases, we’re prevented from doing so, but since we don’t believe in limits we keep knocking at the door, and trying to convince people that we conduct ourselves well and I think we’ll eventually—maybe we’ll eventually get in there. But versus last year this time when we were talking, there’s a dramatic difference in our ecosystem in emerging markets than now.

On Apple’s retail stores and strategy

There’s no better place to discover, explore, and learn about our products than in retail. Our team members there are the most amazing, awesome, incredible people on earth. It’s the best retail experience. It’s a retail experience where you walk in and you instantly realize the store is not here for the purpose of selling—it’s here for the purpose of serving.

The Genius Bar helps you not only with an issue, but it helps you get more out of your Apple products over the life of them. The store acts as a gathering place, as a community—it’s a place that has an important role in the community. And so if you look at an agenda on an Apple store for any given day, you might find that there’s a youth program going on where the kids from a local elementary school are coming into the store as a part of their field trip. You might find that there’s a local musician that’s entertaining people in that store, on that night, it’s incredibly exciting what these stores do.

I’m not even sure “store” is the right word anymore. They’ve taken on a role much broader than that. They are the face of Apple for almost all of our customers. People don’t think about the Cupertino headquarters, they think about the local Apple Store. And because we’ve focused on these things, people love them. Last quarter, we welcomed 120 million people at our stores, and we only have a little over 400. And so that’s almost 10 million people a week. Last year, we welcomed 370 million into the stores, and so this is huge, and in fact, it’s so huge, that some of our stores aren’t big enough.

But this is sort of like the issue around cash: it’s a privilege to have this kind of issue. So what are we doing? We’re closing 20 of our stores and moving them and making them larger. And in addition to that 20, we’re adding 30 more. Those 30 will be disproportionately outside the U.S.; we’re going to place our first store in Turkey this year, we’re super-excited about that. That gets us in 13 countries; we’ve got a long way to go, there’s a lot more countries in the world, and we’ll never be in every one of them, but we’ll certainly be in more. We added four stores in greater China last quarter, and so we’re really on our way there. We’re going to add lots more, there’s incredible opportunity there and we want to serve our customers there.

One of the things that’s probably not understood well about the stores is—and this is my opinion—I don’t think we would have been nearly as successful with iPad, as an example, if it weren’t for our stores. Because here’s a product coming out, it’s different. People’s view of a tablet, the tablet that was ingrained in their mind, was this heavy thing that the Hertz guy was holding that no one wanted. Nobody would want one of those! You know, a few hundred thousand sold a year or something.

But our store is a place to go and explore and discover and try it out and see what it will do, and I don’t think that the launch would have been nearly as successful without stores that welcomed people in—at 10 million a week—and showed it. I think it gives Apple an incredible competitive advantage to have these stores, [because] I think everybody that’s tried it has found out it’s not so easy to replicate in order to launch these products and really educate people about a new category.

So I’m incredibly bullish on the stores. We’re going to continue to invest like crazy in them, and our team members are the best in the world. And the financial results are great: The average store last year was over $50 million in revenue. Who would have thought a store could do that? I think there’s no place quite like it.

I was talking to some employees the other day. I don’t have many bad days—I’m very fortunate from that point of view—but if I ever feel I’m dropping down from an excited level, I go in a store. And it instantly changes, it’s like Prozac or something, I don’t know. It’s unbelievable, the energy in our stores, and to talk to our team members and our customers. It’s a feeling like no other. We’re continuing to invest here.

On his first year as CEO

I’m incredibly proud over a lot of things. I’m most proud of our employees. I have the privilege every day of working with people who want to make the very best products in the world, and they’re there, to do not only great work, but the best work in their lives, and they’re there to do it without limits, they’re the most creative people on earth. It’s the privilege of a lifetime for me, to be at Apple in this point in time and work with all these people.

I’m incredibly proud of the products that we have. We have the best smartphone on the market; we have the best tablet on the market; we have the best PC on the market; we have the best digital music player on the market. For those things that we’ve elected to do, and we continue to focus on a few, they’re really great. And I’m incredibly bullish about the future and what Apple can do and more contributions it can make to the world.

I’m very proud that we’re out front—that we have a spine on supplier responsibility. I’m incredibly happy that we’re changing people’s lives, that we don’t care if people are lobbing grenades from the sidelines, that we’re going to do what’s right and just and moving the ball forward.

I’m incredibly proud that we are doing heavy lifting with the environment; that we’ve designed our products with the environment in mind; that we’ve done that better than everyone else; that we’ve eliminated toxics. I’m proud that we have the largest private solar farm ever, of anywhere, that we can run our data centers on 100 percent renewable energy.

I’m really proud over all these things, and I don’t mean to gush, but it’s how I feel. And, you know, it’s both the privilege of a lifetime, and humbling to work with the people I get to work with.

It’s pretty incredible.

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