updated 10:11 pm EDT, Tue April 30, 2013
Second major tech conference interview since becoming CEO
For the second year in a row, Apple CEO Tim Cook will be the featured interviewee on the opening night of the AllThingsD D11 conference, being held in San Francisco on May 28-30. Last year's interview with Cook, at the D10 conference, was his first formal interview at a third-party event not closed to investors. The opening-night spot is highly coveted and usually reserved for an extensive conversation. In his previous one-hour talk, Cook answered pointed questions on the patent system, Apple's legal fights and his relationship with former CEO Steve Jobs.
This year, however, the focus is likely to be far less on Jobs' legacy and more on moving the company forward. Apple, which recently re-took the "world's most valuable company" crown back from ExxonMobil, has had significant difficulty with Wall Street devaluing the company's solid performance and manipulating the stock with rumors over the past nine months. When Cook last spoke at the conference, the stock was trading near $600 a share; today it closed up for a second day in a row, hitting $442.78.
In his previous interview, Cook referred to the ongoing patent disputes as "maddening" and "a time suck," but also clarified Apple's position, which essentially boils down to "no one should be able to get an injunction off a standards-essential patent." That argument is at the root of most of the cases in which Apple is defending itself from charges from others, while in turn all of the lawsuits Apple has brought against opponents are of infringement of non-essential and design patents.
Since last year, Apple has been very successful with this argument, winning most of the cases that have hinged on the matter and been resolved over the last year. Even in trials where Apple is not involved, the argument that Standards-Essential Patents (SEPs) should not be subject to sales injunctions for unlicensed infringement except in the most extreme circumstances has prevailed in nearly every circumstance.
This time around, questions to Cook (which will likely be handled again by the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher) are likely to center around more forward-looking topics, such as the forthcoming OS X 10.9 and iOS 7 releases expected later this summer, further badgering in an effort to get Cook to hint at new products, questions about the management shakeup that shifted responsibilities around among the executive team, and China. Apple's increasingly estranged relationships with Samsung and Google are also likely to be on the agenda.