Apple's Cook stays coy on new products, calls mobile payments 'interesting'

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) CEO Tim Cook continued to play coy about future new product categories the company might be breaking into later this year. He also indicated he thinks the mobile payments market hasn't been "figured out" yet.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal following Apple's latest earnings release, Cook indicated Apple is working hard on new products but would not be rushed to get them to market. In doing so, he reiterated comment she made during Apple's earnings conference call. On the call he said he was "very, very proud of and very, very excited about" new products Apple is working on, but that "we care about every detail and when you care about every detail and getting it right, it takes a bit longer to do that and that's always been the case, that's not something that just occurs."

Cook told the Journal: "You want to take the time to get it right. Our objective has never been to be first. It's to be the best. To do things really well, it takes time. You can see a lot of products that have been brought to market where the thinking isn't really deep and, as a consequence, these things don't do very well. We don't do very many things so we spend a lot of time on every detail and that part of Apple isn't changing. It's the way we've operated for years and it's the way we still operate. I feel great about what we've got coming. Really great and it's closer than it's ever been."

Investors are hoping Apple will be able to expand sales in the second half of this year with redesigned iPhones and possibly a new product, perhaps a wearable device related to health and fitness, which would likely be dubbed an iWatch. According to a wide range of rumors and reports, Apple will release two different iPhones later this year, one with a 4.5-inch screen and another with a 5.5-inch screen. Apple's most recent iPhones, the 5s and 5c, have 4-inch screens.

There have also been persistent rumors Apple will enhance its Apple TV product with more content offerings and an enhanced interface. On the company's conference call, Cook said he no longer considers the company's Apple TV business a "hobby" because "when you look at the sales of the Apple TV box itself, and you look at a content that was bought directly off of Apple TV for 2013, that number was over $1 billion." He also said "from an investment point of view, we continue to make the product better and better."

In terms of payments, Apple has reportedly been stepping up its recruitment of payment executives to gain a stronger foothold in the mobile and electronic payments market, according to a recent Re/code report.

According to the report, which cited unnamed sources, Apple has been meeting with potential applicants for two new positions. The report said that Apple wants to have a head of product and head of business development for the new unit.

Jennifer Bailey, Apple's e-commerce chief, has met with candidates and is currently leading the initiative, according to the report. Re/code also said that PayPal and Apple have been in talks about a potential partnership. Analysts have said that the Touch ID fingerprint scanner Apple introduced in the iPhone 5s last year could be one mechanism for initiating a mobile payment service.

"I think it's a really interesting area," Cook told the Journal of mobile payments. "We have almost 800 million iTunes accounts and the majority of those have credit cards behind them. We already have people using Touch ID to buy things across our store, so it's an area of interest to us. And it's an area where nobody has figured it out yet. I realize that there are some companies playing in it, but you still have a wallet in your back pocket and I do, too, which probably means it hasn't been figured out just yet."

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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