Apple CEO Tim Cook on Malala Fund partnership: ‘Our values align’

Apple is bringing a lot to its partnership with the education-focused Malala Fund, says CEO Tim Cook.

The tech giant announced Monday that it will become the first Laureate partner of the Malala Fund, which is led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai and raises awareness around the right for equal opportunity in girls’ education.

The tech giant said it will help the fund scale its organization to ensure every girl attends school and completes their education, as there are an estimated 130 million girls globally who are currently out of school. Cook will also be joining the fund’s leadership council.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai.
Source: Apple

“(Malala and I) met and it was one of those rare moments in time where fairly quickly you realize how your values align. Not only the Malala Fund and Apple, but our personal values as well,” Tim Cook said in an interview.

“One, equality is at the core of our belief and values and, two, that education is the great equalizer of people. If you believe both of those, it’s not an extension at all to say, ‘how do we help Malala achieve her vision of educating 130-million young girls around the world?'”

The Malala Fund expects to double the number of grants awarded by its Gulmakai Network and extend funding programs to India and Latin America with Apple’s support.

“I love Malala’s focus on secondary education.”

“In particular, I love (Malala’s) focus on secondary education,” Cook said.

“So many girls around the world are getting to Grade 6 or Grade 7 and then stopping… This isn’t right. It doesn’t maximize potential and it doesn’t treat people with dignity or respect.”

Cook was making a surprise visit in Toronto, Ontario, Canada where he dropped in on a group of Grade 7 students taking part of an Everyone Can Code workshop where they were learning how to make robots dance in the company’s programming language Swift.

Apple has been providing free curriculum for schools to use to teach coding in the classroom as it has continually said it believes coding is the language of the future and an equalizer.

The company created Swift Playgrounds to reach kids around Grades 5 or 6, Cook said, then extending to Everyone Can Code to reach all K-12 students and moving into technical colleges that reach post-high school students before employment or many adults retraining for second careers.

“I’ve been shocked at how receptive the schools have been and how quickly they rolled out,” he said.

“We have found a lot of great educators…that are there to serve kids and make sure that their achievements and dreams are fulfilled.”

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How one person’s hellish Apple Store experience is another’s perfect encounter

Business Insider’s Avery Hartmans complained about a recent ‘hellish’ experience at an Apple Store that, to me, sounded like the best possible situation.

Recently, Business Insider published an opinion piece by writer Avery Hartmans about what visiting an Apple Store for a repair is like. The article, though an editorial, is not the kind of thing that should be covered on a news site. It’s one person’s experience, written from one person’s perspective.

Here’s what I mean.

Hartmans starts the story off describing how she went to an Apple Store for a repair without an appointment, hoping to be seen that day (there were no more online appointments available and she was in a hurry). She explains how Apple’s Town Square approach was too confusing for her.

When I stepped inside, I was immediately struck by how many employees were working on a Sunday afternoon. The store was packed with people, about half of whom were employees. Somehow, they all seemed busy…

There was no clear place to stand or person to approach, and I wandered before finding an available employee. He passed me along to someone else, who handed me off to a third person.

The fourth employee I talked to was my technician, who took my phone and promised to repair the screen in about two hours.

From my perspective, she was helped by four Apple employees who each gave her instructions on where to go and what to do. That’s bad?

Without an appointment, Hartmans was seen right away and was told her screen could be repaired in just a few hours. Though it took longer than expected, she (again, without an appointment) was able to have her iPhone screen repaired in four-and-a-half hours. That’s bad, too?

Then, even though she admits to having dropped her iPhone twice, Hartmans’ iPhone went black and “bricked” —something she blames solely on Apple.

Since my phone worked perfectly before I went in for a repair … I can only assume that a mistake was made in the repair process.

(That’s a presumptuous assumption.)

She went to a different Apple Store, again without an appointment, to get her iPhone fixed. She waited “several minutes” (which is pretty good by retail standards) to talk to a greeter who gave her clear instructions on how to find an Apple staff person to help her see a Genius, which she considers to be confusing, as well.

“Take the staircase on the right and go to the second floor,” he said. “Find the person holding the red iPad.”

I walked around the entire upstairs and peered at each employee’s iPad until I found one with a red cover.

Sounds like she was able to find who she was looking for right away. She was also able to get an appointment for just 30 minutes later.

When she came back for her official appointment, she checked in with the appointment receptionist, who told her to sit at a nearby table. She was then helped by another Apple employee who got some information about her issue (presumably to let the technician know what they should bring to the appointment). She was then helped by the official technician 20 minutes after the start time of her last-minute appointment. I’ve waited longer to pick up take-out that I order two hours ahead of time.

So, after being helped by a number of people that were trying to make the process quick and smooth, she was given a new iPhone at no cost (other than the original $ 150 that she paid for the cracked screen repair).

From my perspective, this is a perfect experience when dealing with an emergency repair. She was helped by multiple employees, all doing what they could to ensure that she was accommodated in a timely fashion, even though the store was busy and she hadn’t made an appointment.

Hartmans, however, considered it to be “from hell” because she (of her own admission) would prefer to stand in line.

I know Apple envisions having a store where customers can flow in and out — or congregate, like in a “town square” — but sometimes it’s just easier to stand in a line. At least from a customer’s standpoint, you know where you need to be.

She prefers the stand-in-line method over Apple’s way of freeing people up to wander around. By not making you stand in line everytime you want to speak to an employee, you’re able to check out new accessories, sit on a stool for a bit, and play with iPhones, iPad, Macs, or whatever else catches your eye.

Would you rather stand in line?

I’m not trying to say that every Apple Store experience is wonderful, especially when we’re referring to some of Apple’s most popular locations. They are very busy and it can sometimes be difficult to navigate.

I don’t think Hartmans’ opinion is wrong. It’s an opinion, after all. What she doesn’t seem to understand, however, is that what she calls hellish, I call ingenious. Some people will agree with Hartmans’ assessment that, “there’s much to be desired with Apple’s repair process.” I also believe that some people will agree with me that everything she complains about is what I love about the experiences I have when visiting an Apple Store for a repair.

The real problem is that Hartmans’ piece is written on a business news website and speaks about subjective matters in an objective way. It’s just one perspective amongst many based on one single experience.

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Apple might retire iPhone X next year… just like it did iPhone 5 in 2013

Often, in the Apple rumor space, the what gets conflated with the why. If Apple retires iPhone X later this year, it wouldn’t be unprecedented. Just ask iPhone 5.

KGI Securities financial analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a history of getting information out of Apple’s supply chain, has clarified an earlier “prediction” about Apple’s 2018 product line.

According to MacRumors, which obtained a copy of Kuo’s note:

iPhone X would hurt product brand value & lineup of 2H18 new models if it continues to sell at a lower price after 2H18 new models launch: Lowering iPhone X’s price after the 2H18 new models launch would be a negative to product brand value given 3D sensing and OLED display are features of the new high-price model. Additionally, to sell iPhone X at a lower price may have a negative impact on shipments of the new 6.1″ LCD iPhone in 2H18. Thus, we estimate iPhone X will reach end-of-life (EOL) around the middle of 2018.

Often, in the Apple rumor space, the what gets conflated with the why. Someone comes across some information and instead of just reporting the information, it gets spun into a larger narrative that, at times, is partially or completely out of context. Multiply that through a chain of broken reblogs, and hilarity can and often does ensue.

Back in 2013, Apple chose not to follow its typical strategy and reduce the price of iPhone 5 by $ 100 to sit below the new, flagship iPhone 5s. Instead, Apple introduced iPhone 5c. It was a product that better suited the market and manufacturing goals Apple had at the time.

(In 2016, Apple did the same with the original Apple Watch: It was retired in favor of Apple Watch Series 1, which was introduced alongside the new, flagship Apple Watch Series 2.)

2018 could easily be similar to 2013, where iPhone X gives way to the new, cheaper LED form factor that better suits the market and manufacturing goals (and realities), which then sits beneath the new, flagship iPhone XI devices (whatever Apple calls the second generation and larger size versions.)

Apple doesn’t set out to make one or two or three new iPhones in a year. The company sets out to make the best product line up. Often that entails keeping the previous year’s device on the market at a slightly reduced price. But not always.

Forget competing for customer attention — or OLED supply. If Apple really wants to offer a less-expensive and larger sized edge-to-edge iPhone as part of this year’s product line up, then retiring current iPhone X to make way for it is the way to do it.

(Let’s just hope it finds higher attraction among its intended customer base than iPhone 5c did.)

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Understanding Apple and its huge pile of cash

Understanding Apple’s cash is as difficult and important as understanding Apple itself.

Apple is one of the most successful and profitable companies in the history of companies. Despite a series of dividends and stock buy-backs, Apple still holds almost $ 269 billion in cash and investments. That’s not just unusual, it’s unprescedented. It’s a sum so vast it fills financial analysts with furor and sends bloggers on back seat buying bonanzas.,

Understanding Apple’s cash is as difficult and important as understanding Apple itself. That’s what makes this Apple cash FAQ by Horace Dediu such a great read,

From Asymco:

As individuals we think that having lots of cash makes us rich. For companies it’s the opposite. Cash is a liability. If you come across a company that is cash rich and has nothing else, its enterprise value will be zero. Companies are valued on their future cash flows, meaning their ability to generate cash, not how much they managed to keep. In other words, cash is a measure of past success and investors are interested only in future value. That future value comes from the intelligent allocation of resources toward a valuable goal. A company rich in cash but poor in vision is likely to be taken private or broken up and shut down. Cash is an IOU to shareholders with a thank-you note for the support through the years.

There are a few sections worth pulling out as well. First is the explanation of Apple’s $ 100 billion in debt.

Although it generates more money than it can use, and that money should thus be returned to shareholders, some of the money is collected outside the US. US (and US only as far as I know) tax laws have a “repatriation tax” that is levied on money coming into the country. So after paying shareholders with the cash it had in the US, Apple had to borrow money to pay shareholders money they had outside the US.

Of Apple’s nearly $ 269 billion in cash, only about $ 17 billion is located in the U.S. The other $ 252 billion is outside the U.S. If Apple were to bring it back to the U.S., even in cases where taxes had already been paid in the country where the money was earned, Apple would be taxes again in the U.S. While there have been a few “amnesty” periods where the tax rate was temporarily reduced to 10%, it was 30% up until the recent tax legislation reduced it to 15%.

At 30%, Apple believed it would lose too much of shareholders’ money by bringing the cash to the U.S. So, it took out loans against the cash in order to pay dividends and buy back shares. At 15%, Apple not only believes the loss will be acceptable, it will no longer be able to avoid it.

It all comes down to the cash belonging to the shareholders. It’s why Apple can’t just use the money to take itself private and avoid Wall Street, which has shown historic lack of vision when it comes to Apple, its products, and its potential.

In theory [Apple] could reduce the share count to a single share and there would presumably be a single shareholder who would own the company, making it “closely held” but the company’s managers are still required to report and act as if it was public.

Apple also tends to spend less on R&D (research and development) than other companies in the industry because of the types of products it’s thus far chosen to bring to market. Including iPhone.

iPhone–the most successful product of all time–cost almost nothing to develop; certainly nothing that required Apple to dip into its cash.

Apple had to invest in multitouch and antenna technologies, to be sure, but it had existing experience and employees in everything from industrial to human interface design, hardware to software engineering. iPhone was primarily about using its existing competencies to much greater effect. Then, over time, growing them out to include things like silicon and machine learning.

R&D has increased over the years as Apple has approached technologies that require more breadth and diversity, from health sciences to autonomous systems, but it remains something that doesn’t come close to even denting Apple’s cash reserves.

Dediu also touches on Apple using its cash hoard to go on a shopping spree for other companies. Including the “Why Apple should by Disney/Netflix/Twitter/Nintendo/Tesla” that get posted every few months.

Apple does not buy “business models” or customers or cash flows which is what large companies are valued for. Operationally, it’s also because Apple has a strong culture and it wishes to preserve it. Acquisitions dilute culture which is why integrations often fail.

Microsoft buying Nokia on the hardware side and AOL buying Time Warner on the content side are good examples of major purchases that failed to add value to the purchaser.

So far, Apple hasn’t needed a large-scale purchase to acquire new business models. It’s managed to increase services revenue on its own, and the large-for-Apple but not for the industry Beats purchase has expanded subscription revenue. Apple has customers as well — the hundreds of millions, perhaps over a billion, that have bought or use an iPhone and other Apple products. Most of the companies Apple “should buy” have customers that, in large part, already use or have used Apple products.

And cash flow…

Beats and NeXT — which returned Steve Jobs to the company and gained Apple the core technology that became macOS and iOS — are Apple’s largest acquisitions to date. Some of the smaller ones have been profound as well. PA Semi led to Apple’s dominance in silicon. Authentic led to Touch ID and PrimeSense, among others, to FaceID. Also, of course, Siri.

Apple is set to report Q1 2018 financial results on Thursday, February 1. It’s a holiday quarter, so it should be big. Apple has already given guidance and has also announced billions in investment in everything from a new support center to new jobs in the U.S.

But just like Apple only gets into new products when it believes there’s an opportunity to create a differentiated experience that adds tremendous value in a way Apple is uniquely positioned to realize and control, Apple only spends its huge cash pile on opportunities where it believes it will gain the same kind of experience and value.

Check out Horace’s complete Apple Cash FAQ at Asymco.

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Apple becomes Malala Fund’s first Laureate partner, helps increase support for girls’ education

‘We believe that education is a great equalizing force, and we share Malala Fund’s commitment to give every girl an opportunity to go to school” — Tim Cook

The Malala Fund is an advocacy group that champions every girl’s right to 12 years of free, safe, and quality education. Apple is becoming the fund’s first laureate partner to help significantly expand education and advocacy efforts.

From Apple:

With Apple’s support, Malala Fund expects to double the number of grants awarded by its Gulmakai Network and extend funding programs to India and Latin America with the initial goal of extending secondary education opportunities to more than 100,000 girls.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai:

“My dream is for every girl to choose her own future, Through both their innovations and philanthropy, Apple has helped educate and empower people around the world. I am grateful that Apple knows the value of investing in girls and is joining Malala Fund in the fight to ensure all girls can learn and lead without fear.”

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook:

“We believe that education is a great equalizing force, and we share Malala Fund’s commitment to give every girl an opportunity to go to school,” said Tim Cook. “Malala is a courageous advocate for equality. She’s one of the most inspiring figures of our time, and we are honored to help her extend the important work she is doing to empower girls around the world.”

Apple is one of the world’s most successful and wealthy companies. It will continue to make industry-leading products and record profits. Under Tim Cook, it also wants to use its power and influence to champion civll rights, at home and abroad.

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