Apple doesn't make a habit of revealing major news at other company's conferences, but that doesn't mean Tim Cook's appearance at WSJD Live had nothing noteworthy to speak of.
In typically coy fashion, Apple's CEO hinted at future plans, gave status reports on current products and explained the company's overall strategy. Here are some of the major takeaways, plucked from the Wall Street Journal's liveblog of the conversation.
A solid-sounding start for Apple Pay
Apple's new payments service launched on October 20, and Cook said users activated 1 million credit cards in the the first 72 hours. The number sounds impressive, and Cook said the early ramp-up looked “fantastic,” but keep in mind that Apple sold 39 million iPhones worldwide last quarter. While some of those phones are older models that don't support Apple Pay, and the service itself is only available in the United States, Apple will have to battle some user inertia as it tries to get people to register their cards.
On the iPod's demise
After five years with no updates, the iPod Classic finally vanished from Apple's store in September. Apple didn't provide an explanation at the time, but Cook said at the WSJD conference that Apple could no longer get the necessary parts. That doesn't quite explain the unceremonious nature of the iPod's demise, but there are plenty of touching eulogies from people besides Cook if you're feeling emotional.
Just a year ago, Cook was saying that television was “an area of intense interest” for Apple, but he struck a subtler tone at the WSJD conference. While he made the obligatory nod to the awfulness of the current TV experience, he shied away from saying Apple could do anything about it, as he has in the past. Striking reasonable deals with content providers is tricky, and there are no signs that Apple is making much headway.
Possible privacy wall
Although Apple is trying to pitch itself as a protector of privacy and security, recent breaches have put a ding in the company's reputation. Cook said Apple is designing a “Fort Knox kind of thing” to enhance user privacy, but he didn't get into details. Cook also took several indirect jabs at Google (“We're not Big Brother … We'll leave that to others.”) so it's no surprise Apple is looking at new ways to distinguish itself on the privacy front.
Nothing new on the Apple Watch
With the Apple Watch due to launch in early 2015, Cook stayed tight-lipped on any additional details. He did say to expect one-day battery life from the device, but that's the same line Apple's PR department has been giving since September, despite some breathless reports about Cook's statement in the media.
This isn't news, in other words—and it's still unclear how much screen-on time users should expect if they want the Watch to last until bedtime.