Apple boss touts wearable tech, cool on glasses

AFP, SAN FRANCISCO

Thu, May 30, 2013 - Page 15

Apple Inc chief executive Tim Cook on Tuesday said he sees promise in computers shrunk down and worn like watches or other accessories, but drew the line at Internet-linked eyewear, such as Google Glass.

Google Inc’s Google Glass is “not likely to be a mass market item,” but Apple is “incredibly interested” in the broader area of wearable computing, Cook said in an on-stage interview at an AllThingsD conference in California.

He predicted there will be “tons of companies playing” in the wearable computing sector, but sidestepped a question as to whether Apple would be among them with the creation of a rumored “iWatch” device to be worn on the wrist.

“I don’t know a lot of people that wear [glasses] that don’t have to,” a bespectacled Cook said in a sideways shot at Google Glass.

“The wrist is interesting,” he continued in comments live-blogged by AllThingsD. “You still have to convince people it is worth wearing. Most young people don’t wear a watch.”

Google Glass was a common sight early this month as software savants shared visions of games, weather reports, news and more delivered to the Internet-linked eyewear at a San Francisco developers conference.

Many developers attending an annual Google I/O event sported the device as part of an “explorer” program to tinker with creative applications for the eyewear, which cost US$1,500.

Glass connects to the Internet using Wi-Fi hot spots or, more typically, by being wirelessly tethered to mobile phones. Pictures or video are shared through the Google Plus social network.

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said recently that it would take “a while” before consumer versions of Glass were available.

Cook rejected the notion that Apple has lost its cool factor and said he was not worried about pressure from competitors such as Samsung Electronics Co.

“Absolutely not,” Cook coolly replied when asked whether the California company was in trouble. “We’ve always had competent rivals. We’ve always suited up and fought.”

He said that Apple sold 85 million iPhones and 42 million iPads in the last fiscal quarter and that devices powered by the company’s iOS software account for about 59 percent of mobile Internet traffic.

Cook said that Apple has quietly acquired nine companies so far this year and more takeovers could be on the horizon.

The slide in Apple’s share price “has been frustrating,” Cook said.

Apple shares, which topped US$700 in September last year, were at US$440 in after hours trading on Tuesday.

Cook said that Apple has “several more game-changers” in it, but declined to give details. He said the company was still committed to its Apple TV set-top boxes for streaming online content to big screens.

Apple has sold 13 million Apple TV devices, about half of those in the past year, Cook said.