Apple is a notoriously secret company, with journalists clamoring to cover whatever leaks out of the company. But last night, Tim Cook, Jony Ive and other Apple executives opened up to 60 Minutes’ Charlie Rose about everything from cameras and taxes to the Apple Watch and the company’s new campus.
Perhaps the most interesting moment of the interview came when Rose brought up Apple’s practice of keeping billions of dollars in revenue that’s earned overseas in foreign banks. Some critics say that Apple is dodging taxes by not bringing that money back to the U.S.
“That is total political crap,” said Cook, Apple’s CEO and former chief operating officer. “There is no truth behind it. Apple pays every tax dollar we owe.”
He said it would cost Apple 40 percent to bring that money back. Other multinational corporations face the same dilemma, parking money in overseas accounts to avoid paying taxes that may one day be lowered.
“This is a tax code, Charlie, that was made for the industrial age, not the digital age,” Cook said. “It’s backwards. It’s awful for America. It should have been fixed many years ago. It’s past time to get it done.”
But the 60 Minutes interview covered more than just tax code. Rose also talked to Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, about how the company settled on its two iPhone sizes.
“We chose these two because partly they just felt right,” Ive said, “not from a tactile point of view. But just emotionally they felt like a good size.”
Ive stood in front of a table with a dozen mockups of the latest iPhone form factors, ranging from iPhone 5 screen size to four models even larger than the iPhone 6S Plus. But he also hinted that the next iPhone may be considerably different.
“This is the tip of the iceberg,” Ive said. “Because we’ve found that different textures considerably impact your perception of the object, of the product, what it’s like to hold, and what it’s like to feel.”
Rose tried to push Cook on the success, or failure, of the Apple Watch, but the CEO brushed off any idea that the Watch didn’t meet his expectations.
“I’m not disappointed in it,” Cook said.
“But you saw room to improve it?” Rose asked.
“When we launch a product, we’re already working on the next one. And possibly the next-next one” Cook responded.
Cook also touched on encryption. Some government officials have been pushing tech companies like Apple to create backdoors into otherwise encrypted communications to thwart potential terrorist attacks.
“Here’s the situation on your smartphone today, on your iPhone, there’s likely health information, there’s financial information,” Cook said. “There are intimate conversations with your family, or your co-workers. There’s probably business secrets and you should have the ability to protect it. And the only way we know how to do that, is to encrypt it.”
One of the most obvious ways Apple encrypts communications is through iMessage, its iPhone-to-iPhone (or iPad or Mac, etc.) messaging platform. Not even Apple can read the messages sent between iMessage users.
“I don’t believe that the tradeoff here is privacy versus national security,” Cook said. “I think that’s an overly simplistic view. We’re America. We should have both.”
As with previous 60 Minutes interviews with those in the tech sector, some have said the interview was a “puff piece.” Despite his best efforts, Rose didn’t get anything on Apple’s ambitions to join the car market, and none of the tech shown off was anything Apple geeks didn’t already know from iFixit teardowns or Apple keynotes.
The only real new product in the segment was Apple’s new spaceship campus, which Rose toured with Cook and Ive. Ive, in particular, was proud of the curved glass that encircles each floor and provides unobstructed panoramic views. Maybe that enthusiasm points to a future Apple device. We just hope it doesn’t have the same price tag as Apple’s new campus, which Cook confirmed is going to cost the company about $5 billion.