Apple isn't ready to accept cryptocurrency as payment for its devices, but CEO Tim Cook has invested some of his own millions into the virtual currency, he says.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has dabbled in cryptocurrency, but while the company is keeping an eye on the virtual currency, it has no plans to accept it as payment for Apple products just yet.
Cryptocurrency is “something that we’re looking at” as a company, Cook said during a virtual appearance at the DealBook 2021 Online Summit. But “it’s not something that we have immediate plans to” roll out to Apple customers. “I’m not planning to…take crypto for our products as a means of tender.”
For now, Cupertino also won’t invest its cash balance in cryptocurrencies, Cook said.
When asked by moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin if Cook personally owns any crypto, Cook said he does, arguing that it’s “reasonable to own it as part of a diversified portfolio.” He stressed that he’s not giving anyone financial advice; his investments are his own. But Cook says he’s been interested in crypto “for awhile.”
“I think it’s interesting,” he said. “I don’t want to put any labels on it,” but it’s intriguing from a personal point of view.
One tech CEO who’s all-in on crypto, of course, is Elon Musk (for better or worse), who said in 2020 that Cook refused to meet with Musk about a possible sale of Tesla to Apple.
When asked about that today, Cook said he’s “never spoken to Elon.” Apple looks at many companies for acquisitions, but “I feel good about where we are today.”
Did Cook refuse to meet Musk, though? Cook said he doesn’t remember, but Musk “said that I did, so I assume that that’s correct.”
Not surprisingly, Cook declined to say anything about Apple’s own long-rumored automotive ambitions. “We try not to talk about the future” too much, he said. Apple wouldn’t be Apple if the company didn’t have a few “secretive” projects up its sleeve, Cook quipped.
Want to Sideload? Get an Android Phone
One big issue making headlines these days for Apple is control of its App Store. Big-name developers like Epic Games, Spotify, and Netflix have battled publicly with Apple over what they say are onerous commissions that Apple demands from in-app payments. Epic is currently fighting the issue in court, and a recent ruling forced Apple to open up payment options on the iOS App Store. However, the judge didn’t find the company guilty of running a monopoly, something Apple said was a win.
Cook reiterated Apple’s stance there today. “We invented the App Store,” he said, and the only way to ensure the security of its ecosystem is to retain a tight grip on the apps that are allowed in. “Having a place where that trust is built in has been really key for us and key for developers.”
“If you want to sideload, you can buy an Android phone,” Cook argued. “It wouldn’t be an iPhone if it didn’t maximize privacy and security.”
With billions in the bank, should Apple give developers a break on that 30% commission? Cook said Apple has lowered its commissions, pointing to the 15% rate for developers with less than $1 million in annual sales and subscription rates that drop from 30% to 15% after a year. Of the 2 million+ apps in the store, meanwhile, 85% don’t pay any commission, he said.
“You’ve seen many changes in the past and you’ll see new changes in the future,” Cook added. “Our North Star is security and privacy.”