There was a lot of ground for Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher to cover during their interview of Apple CEO Tim Cook at this year’s D11 Conference opening keynote. Since taking over for Steve Jobs, Cook has seen his company’s stock price fall and Android pull ahead in both the smartphone and tablet wars. Apple has come under fire from the government for its tax policies and from its own investors for not being aggressive enough with acquisitions.
Watching the keynote, I appreciated the probing questions on wearable computing (Cook is big on the wrist but not on Google Glass) and opening up iOS more for developers (Apple will only do it if it can protect the user experience). However, there were some topics I wish the two had covered during the session. Here’s what I would ask Tim Cook given the opportunity.
Question 1: Since you’ve taken the helm at Apple, critics have said that you’re more of an operations guy than an innovator. What innovations would you point to during your tenure that would prove the critics wrong?
Question 2: Google has tried to crack mobile payments with Google Wallet and the carriers seem to be dragging their feet with ISIS. What is your take on mobile payments and do you think Apple could provide a solution? What have you learned from your own Passbook users thus far?
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Question 3: The Xbox One looks to be the first game console to seamlessly integrate live TV and gaming. Do you see Apple working with cable and satellite providers for the next version of Apple TV or a television? At the same time, the next Apple TV could also have a lot of gaming potential if you choose to leverage your developer relationships. What’s your take on gaming in the living room beyond technologies like AirPlay?
Question 4: Millions of iPhone buyers have been willing to accept the trade-off between a sealed design and a nonremovable battery. But many complain that the iPhone 5 doesn’t last long enough on a charge. Motorola stuffed a huge 3,300 mAh battery inside a phone a year and a half ago while other companies are investigating photovoltaic screens. What is Apple doing to improve the iPhone’s battery life?
Question 5: Samsung’s Next Big Thing ads not only show shoppers what a Galaxy S4 can do but cheekily remind them what the iPhone can’t do. There’s a real edginess to the ads. Meanwhile, Apple is taking the high ground with heart-warming commercials with iPhone owners taking pictures and listening to music. Should Apple go a bit more negative like its Mac versus PC ads? And how are you thinking about marketing Apple as a brand now versus a few years ago?
Question 6: Google’s Chromebook seems to be gaining some momentum in the education space, and recently the state of Maine picked a Windows 8 HP laptop for its middle school students. Does Apple have the right products at the right price for the education market, and do you feel threatened there?
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Question 7: You say that Apple wants people to see the iPad as a content-creation device as opposed to just consumption. But what could Apple do to push that further either in terms of design or features? Are you still down on tablet-notebook hybrid devices like the Surface that’s a tablet first? And what device do you use most to get real work done, a MacBook or an iPad?
Question 8: Steve Jobs sat on this stage in 2010 and told us that Apple was really good at picking technologies in their springs. At the time he was referring to why Apple was abandoning Flash. Where is Apple placing its big bets now?