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Special Report: Tim Cook addresses Apple shareholders with wit, passion and analytical focus

Tim Cook met with shareholders for the first time following the passing of Apple's cofounder and former chief executive Steve Jobs, revealing his own very distinct personality but also strong commonality with Jobs' wit, passion and analytical focus.

Following an introductory vote on seven issues before shareholders, Cook took the stage as Apple's chief executive and addressed the audience noting the loss he and the rest of Apple felt, saying, "not a day goes by that I don't miss him."

Cook acknowledged the condolences expressed by many in attendance, and said he is determined to "continue the journey" Jobs had been leading, as "that's what he'd want."

A Mind boggling year of products

Cook then turned his attention to the products Apple had released over the last year, saying it was "mind boggling" that so many very successful products had been released in such a short period of time.

He specifically noted iPhone 4S and Siri, adding that the new voice assistance service is now a recognized brand in nearly every country. He also praised the enhanced camera in the new phone, saying it was a "better camera than I've ever owned by a country mile," and noted that the majority of the pictures being uploaded to online photo sharing sites are done via the phone.

Cook also reiterated that the iPod remains the top selling music player with more than 70 percent market share around the world, and said that with new releases of the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and iMac, Apple "is the only company innovating in the PC space."

Describing the App Store, with a library of apps now over 550,000, Cook said Apple's iOS had taken "mobile apps" from virtually nothing to become a huge economy that is creating a new jobs segment that didn't exist anymore and referred to iOS as a "jobs platform."

Source: ImagineChina/AP Photo via Bloomberg

Facts with a side of wit and passion

Cook also noted the iTunes Store was close to hitting its milestone of 25 billion app downloads, and pointed out Apple retail stores had passed 360 locations, with 110 million visitors in the last quarter. He contrasted the 50,000 people who once attended Macworld Expo with the 1 million people who now visit Apple stores every day, the very augment Jobs used to explain why Apple had stopped attending the annual exhibition.

Apple earned $108 billion in the last fiscal year, $43 billion of which was new growth over the previous year. That, Cook said, was more growth that HP, Dell Nokia, HTC, Google and RIM combined. "Really mind blowing," Cook said, adding that it wasn't too long ago that Apple was reporting $5 billion revenues.

Cook noted an additional $46 billion in revenue for its first fiscal (winter) quarter, coyly adding, "we had an extra week, for full disclosure," eliciting laughs from the audience.

Across all retailers, Cook added, Apple's MacBook Pro was the top selling PC.

Cook later meekly alluded to shareholder's votes of directors, saying "it doesn't matter who gets the most votes," some time after the host of the formal segment of the meeting had recounted that Cook himself had the received the highest percentage of confirmation votes among shareholders, a figure that exceeded 98 percent.

Apple stock
Apple showed amazing gains over the past sixth months. | Source: Bloomberg

More Q&A

Cook then invited Phil Schiller and Peter Oppenheimer to answer shareholder questions, boldly answering a question about whether Apple considers Facebook a "friend or foe," unequivocally saying "Facebook is a friend," and noting that "it's not like there is significant overlap in the things we do."

Apple and Facebook have often been described as being in an adversarial relationship, following Facebook's "onerous terms" that killed integration with iTunes Ping, and a delay in releasing a finished iPad app last year.

On the subject of social networking, Cook also mentioned iMessages, pointing out that Apple now handles a tremendous amount of traffic that "makes the [iTunes Store] content numbers seem small."

When a representative from a family-oriented organization commended Apple for keeping adult content out of the App Store and then challenged the company to pull its advertising from shows it found objectionable, including the "Family Guy" cartoon, Cook noted that we don't all agree on specific examples, but noted that Apple does more than anyone in providing privacy and parental controls in its software.

Cook highlighted Apple's leadership role as "doing things substantially different" from its competitors, a reference that seemed intended at Google, which has largely allowed any content to exist with little curative control over the Android platform.

Apple in education

When encouraged to fund more scholarships for engineering and science students, Cook noted that "we believe education is a great equalizer," and highlighted that an "incredible" percentage of the employee matching program Apple started last year had gone to funding education and scholarships.

Cook also highlighted Apple's recent iBooks Author initiative, noting that the tool Apple offers for free was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and added that Apple's other contributions to education, from grants to discounts, amounted to three quarters of a billion dollars last year.

"We're always searching for how we can do more," Cook said, adding that over the last year Apple's student intern program had grown to the largest yet, with over 600 interns on the Cupertino campus and hundreds more in other locations. Cook noted that hundreds of student interns are going back to school with job offers from Apple.