Cook dishes on Apple TV, innovation, cash on hand at annual shareholder meeting

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Apple’s annual shareholder meeting is one of its most un-Apple-like gatherings. Attendance is limited to company shareholders and press, CEO Tim Cook and other executives often take questions, and attendees are asked to not take their electronic devices into the meeting. All of that adds up to an interesting trickle of information from a variety of sources around the Web, which we’ve collected for you in one easy-to-digest package.

Turn on the Apple TV

By all accounts, Cook spent a good chunk of time discussing the Apple TV on Friday, telling shareholders that the company had sold more than $1 billion worth of the set-top boxes (and related content) in the last year.

“It’s a little more difficult to call it a hobby these days,” he told the crowd, according to Reuters.

Analyst Horace Dediu of Asymco translated that figure into units, saying that Apple has cumulatively sold around 28 million of the devices since 2007, with total revenue of about $3.5 billion.

Dediu also described the Apple TV as “the fastest growing hardware product in Apple’s line-up,” and estimated its growth at 80 percent year-over-year.

Elsewhere, Apple launched a promotion for the Apple TV on Friday, with purchasers between February 28 and March 5 eligible for a $25 iTunes Store gift card. That spurred renewed speculation that the company is clearing inventory ahead of a spring update to the set-top box.

Apple also updated a few figures on the number of iMessages sent every day—a staggering 40 billion—and the number of FaceTime video calls—15 to 20 million. Earlier this week, in OS X 10.9.2, Apple added to Macs the ability to make FaceTime audio calls, a feature added to iOS devices last fall in iOS 7.

Cash on the barrel

Apple’s store of cash has been a contentious issue over the past couple of years. According to CNBC, Cook on Friday promised an update on the company’s capital return program within 60 days—which would put it right around the time of Apple’s next quarterly financial call in late April.

That cash has not been sitting idle, however. CNBC also said that Cook told investors the company has increased its research and development spending by 32 percent over last year—a case of, as Cook said, Apple putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to introducing new product categories, as the CEO told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month. The takeaway message: Apple still has innovation in its DNA.

Furthermore, the company has been on something of an acquisition tear, buying up 23 companies over the last 16 months. Some of those have, of course, made it to the public eye, but there are no doubt a few that haven’t yet come to light.

Modest proposals

Issues of Apple corporate governance aren’t exactly edge-of-your-seat material, but they are what a shareholder meeting is all about. Apple’s entire board of directors was re-elected, and every proposal the board favored was approved, including one to award more stock to Apple employees in key positions and another to tie executive compensation more tightly to the company’s performance.

On the flipside, all proposals from shareholders were voted down, according to Bloomberg. Those included a request for Apple to release an annual report about its trade association memberships, and Carl Icahn’s later withdrawn buyback suggestion.

In keeping with the theme of staying the course, Bloomberg also reported that Cook said Apple was on the right track. “We made more money than any other technology company has ever made. Other than companies that drill oil for a living, I’m not sure that anyone has ever made more. We’re very proud of that.”

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