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Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke at the New York Times ‘DealBook Summit on a variety of topics, including the company’s role in users’ mental health – and the fact that he personally owns Bitcoin.
In the far-reaching interview with Aaron Ross Sorkin of the New York Times, Cook spoke on a variety of topics related to Apple and the broader technology industry. On the subject of cryptocurrency, Cook revealed that there is an interest in Bitcoin from a “personal point of view”.
“I do. I think it’s reasonable to own it as part of a diversified portfolio,” said Cook when asked if he owns the cryptocurrency, adding that he has been interested in the area “for a while” .
Cook, however, shot down the chances of Apple accepting bitcoin as payment for its product or the company buying bitcoin as a business investment.
“I wouldn’t invest in crypto, not because I wasn’t investing my own money, but because I don’t think people are buying Apple stock to invest in crypto,” Cook said. He added that Apple is looking into the cryptocurrency space, but said there are no immediate plans in the area.
Elsewhere during the interview, Cook said that companies have a responsibility to be a force for good in society. This also includes mental health. While more research needs to be done, Cook said, “we should all be concerned with making products that help people’s mental health, not against it.”
He used the Screen Time feature as an example of how companies can fight for mental health and stated that he changed his own behavior based on the iPhone usage data that the feature tracks.
When asked if he thinks the time spent on social media is negative overall, Cook said it depends on the person.
“I think if you mindlessly scroll or get upset by negativity, I think that’s bad,” said Cook. “I think it’s bad for your sanity, I think it’s bad for the people around you. But I think the person who ultimately has to decide that is that person. ”
Apple’s role, he said, is simply to provide users with the information so they can make an informed decision.
On the subject of choice, Cook was asked about the split between Apple, which claims it offers users privacy choices, and the company’s ban on allowing users to choose iOS. The Apple boss denied that there was no choice for users.
“I think people have that choice today, Andrew,” said Cook. “Because if you want to sideload, you can buy an Android phone. So that choice is yours when you go to the carrier shop, if that’s important to you then you should buy an Android phone.”
Cook compared side loading to telling a automaker not to put airbags in a car. He described allowing sideloading on iOS as “too risky” because “it wouldn’t be an iPhone if it didn’t maximize security and privacy”.
China & politics
When it came to criticism that Apple had failed to speak up enough on allegations of human rights abuses in China, Cook defended Apple’s approach, saying the company was speaking privately about these concerns.
Apple’s responsibility is to “do business in as many places as possible,” which means complying with each country’s individual regulations. He said that “engagement is the right approach” and that it “is never good to be on the sidelines, at least for business”.
Cook was also asked about his role as CEO, as he has spoken publicly on a range of political issues such as immigration or voting rights.
“I’m thinking about not wading into politics, but somehow sticking to politics,” said Cook. “You know, Apple is one of the few midsize or large companies that doesn’t even have a PAC. And that’s why we try to stay away from politics and focus on politics. And if it’s a policy that overlaps with our values, or in some way overlaps with our company, the chances are we will speak out. ”
Cook was interviewed by Sorkin about several different rumored product initiatives, including future hardware plans for augmented or virtual reality and the long-rumored “Apple Car”.
The Apple CEO said he wouldn’t share any information or make announcements because the company doesn’t like to talk about the future and said, “We wouldn’t be if we had nothing up our sleeves. “