Apple World Today News Update: February 13, 2018

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Today was Apple's annual shareholder meeting, held at the Steve Jobs Theatre on the Apple Park campus. As a result, today's podcast covers just one topic -- the shareholder meeting, the agenda of the meeting, and comments made by shareholders and the Apple executives during the meeting. 

The text version of the podcast can be read below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below. Apple News readers need to visit Apple World Today in order to listen to the podcast.

Text Version

This is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and you’re listening to the AWT News Update podcast for Tuesday, February 13, 2018.  

Today’s podcast is on one topic only — Apple’s shareholder meeting that was held at the Steve Jobs Theatre on the Apple Park campus this morning.  As usual, the shareholder meeting of the most valuable corporation on Earth had both boring details to take care of and interesting tidbits thrown in by both the company executives and the occasional shareholder. There were six items on the agenda of the meeting this morning. First, to elect to the board of directors the eight nominees that were presented by the board, including Tim Cook, Disney’s Bob Iger, and six others on the slate. Second, to ratify the appointment of Ernst & Young as the independent registered public accounting firm for 2018. Third, voting on a resolution involving executive compensation. Fourth, to approve the amended and restated Apple Inc. non-employee director stock plan, Fifth, to vote on shareholder proposals set forth in the proxy statement. Sixth, and lastly, to transact other business. To begin with, Apple showed the video about customers using Apple Watch that was shown during Olympic coverage yesterday, followed by  Apple’s new top counsel Katherine Adams discussing stock details and investor regulations prior to voting. The vote to re-elect the board of directors was held up by a shareholder who said he is refraining from voting to protest the direction of Apple’s software. The shareholder said that he’s upset about the retirement of the Aperture app (which was done two or three years ago) and he still uses iOS 9. A second shareholder questioned Apple about having only two women on the board of directors, while a third person asked when Apple will waterproof its phones because her son drops them in toilets. Hopefully someone told her that everything since the iPhone 7 is rated IP67 for splash, dust and water resistance. Another shareholder asked about the qualifications of some of the board members. The board was re-elected, and items two through four on the agenda were approved quickly. Shareholder proposals were opposed by management and didn’t pass. There was also a shareholder proposal to have Apple create a human rights committee to study iPhone addiction among children. Apple said that its audit committee already does what a human rights committee would do, but the shareholders wanted the proposed committee to go beyond Apple’s audit committee’s purview. 

The next section of the meeting was a Q&A session between shareholders and CEO Tim Cook. Cook started by sharing that the iPhone X has 99% customer satisfaction and that the phone has outsold other models since it became available in November. Cook noted that Apple’s total subscriber base for services, including Apple Music and iCloud, is near 1 billion. Discussing Apple Watch and other wearables, which include AirPods, Beats, and so on, Cook said that the category is almost a Fortune 300 company at this time. Cook reported that Apple acquired 19 companies in 2017 and has more in mind for 2018. The company spent $12 billion on R&D last year, and has about 123,000 full-time employees. Apple hopes to add another 20,000 employees this year. One question to Cook had to do with a succession plan for him, and he noted that his work requires preparing internal candidates. The board of directors could select a qualified candidate from outside the company if they wished. Another comment dealt with health and technology, with Cook saying that the company could make a valuable contribution to healthcare since Apple isn’t focused on being reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid. Several other questions touched on oral health, blockchain, and Apple retail, and the meeting ended when a shareholder asked for a tour of the new campus. Cook’s response? “The reason we created the visitor’s center. The problem with opening up the main facility for tours is we have so much confidential stuff around and keeping stuff confidential is the bane of my existence now.”

That’s all the news for today - join me tomorrow afternoon for another edition of the AWT News Update.