Tim Cook: 'Apple could unlock iPhones, but won't'

In a lengthy interview with the Washington Post, Cook talks about AR, Tax and San Bernardino.

To celebrate both Tim Cook's fifth year at the helm of Apple and the production of the billionth iPhone, the chief has sat down with the Washington Post. It's very much a goodwill piece, although there are a few insights into both Cook and Apple that the CEO lets slip along the way. For instance, on the subject of the San Bernardino iPhone, the company did spend a long time working out if they could unlock it. After deciding that it was possible, but that it'd be extremely difficult to stop the exploit being shared, Cook refused to do it. As he explains, "the risk of what happens if it got out, we felt, could be incredibly terrible for public safety."

Cook also reiterated that the $3 billion purchase of Beats Electronics was really to get at the company's streaming platform. In his eyes, Apple doesn't "acquire for revenue," but for "talent and/or intellectual property," although the profit that Beats generates is a handy bonus. Buying Beats enabled Apple to get its own music service "out probably a little sooner than we would have otherwise." Cook also claimed that Apple may make more original video and audio shows like Planet of the Apps and Beats 1, but only if it will act as a "catalyst" for pushing apps as the future of TV.

Tim Cook does seem determined to gloss over Apple's tax status in Europe, claiming that the company didn't get special treatment in Ireland. The European Union feels differently and has opened a lengthy investigation to examine the terms of a so-called sweetheart deal when Apple Ireland was established in 1991. The fact that, in 2014, Apple booked two-thirds of its global profits to an Irish-registered tax haven implies something may not be right. Cook also believes that where you "create value is the place where you are taxed," his justification for saying that only US tax is worth paying.

As for the future, Cook refutes the suggestion that Apple is lagging behind companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon on Artificial Intelligence. Reiterating the fact that Siri is "with you all the time," and that Siri's next word prediction has gotten "a lot smarter." Another big growth area is augmented reality, and Cook concedes that Apple is "doing a lot of things" behind the scenes on developing the technology. Not to mention all of those secret purchases of firms -- 63 since late 2013 -- including a few AI firms like Turi and an AR company called Metaio.