It's amazing how a single word can put an entire statement into question. A single word out of context or purposely interjected into a statement has the power to instantly change a positive statement into one that's rather murky. A case in point would be our byline. Take out the word "reasonably" and you have a positive statement. Yet by adding that one word to define Apple's confidence – and it opens the door to doubt. In a way, that's exactly what Wall Street Journalist Daisuke Wakabayashi did in yesterday's interview with Tim Cook. Whether it was by accident or design is unknown. Yet any writer would know that throwing in the word "reasonable" in the wrong place could end up turning a positive point into a slightly negative light.
In yesterday's interview with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Tim Cook stood on Apple's marketing principle of not describing any of their future products, let alone the Next Great Thing. It's a tradition that the late CEO Steve Jobs began after returning to Apple.
Wall Street Journalist Daisuke Wakabayashi noted in his report that "Mr. Cook reiterated that Apple plans to enter a new category this year. Apple watchers are speculating about wearable devices or a new television platform."
"There will be new categories. We're not ready to talk about it, but we're working on some really great stuff," Mr. Cook said.
The report further noted that "When asked whether a new product category could mean an improvement on an existing product like an iPad Air, a lighter version of its tablet computer, or new services such as mobile payments, Mr. Cook declined to comment."
Not being satisfied with Cook's decision to not comment further on future devices, Wakabayashi decided to add a twist to his report by adding that Tim Cook had stated "that anyone 'reasonable' would consider what Apple is working on as new categories."
The only word in that WSJ statement within quotes was "reasonable." Why wasn't Tim Cook's full statement in quotes? Cook had made Apple's official position known as we highlighted in yellow above. Yet by craftily adding "reasonable" to the context of categories, it automatically puts Apple's potential new category product into doubt as we proved with one misplaced word in our byline.
For instance, if Apple decided to introduce a 5 or 5.2 inch iPhone later this year, it would technically push that particular iPhone into a new category called the "Phablet." While that categorical distinction would be "reasonably" considered a new category, it would certainly miss the boat as representing an entire new category such as an advanced arm-band computer, iWatch, or Smart TV which Wall Street is hoping Apple will deliver. Something that would represent a dramatic new multi-year income steam attached to it. In the end, it would still be an iPhone that's simply moving to an evolutionary new category of lessor consequence as far as Wall Street is concerned.
Reasonable could also mean adding a gaming component to their Apple TV set-top-box product. It would technically put Apple TV into a new category of game console if you're reasonably minded, but it's not really what Wall Street is hoping for in a new category entry as I outlined above. Again, it would be an evolutionary move rather than an all-new product.
No matter how you slice it, attaching "reasonable" to "new category" isn't positive. It's not the end of the world in any way, but it insinuates that there'll be reason as to why the product won't be seen by some as a new product. That in some ways it'll be a stretch to see it as a new category, therefore only those that are reasonable will see it that way. In a way, I'm a bit of a doubting Thomas on this point as I'm not sure that Cook would have said that in the way that it was projected in the report. It's not in line with the rest of the interview. Though only time will tell.
Apple being confident about their future as a company was in fact what Tim Cook was trying to convey throughout his interview with the Wall Street Journal, make no mistake about it.
Cook noted that he was "surprised" by the 8% decline in Apple's shares the day after they reported their financials on January 28. That was Wall Street showing little confidence in Apple and Cook wanted to make the case that it was unjustified.
To show Wall Street how confident Apple is in their future growth, Apple's CEO stated that the company bought back $40 billion of its shares over the past year which is a record for any company over a similar span; and that $14 of the $40 billion was just purchased in the last two weeks.
That's not just hyping up Apple stock with empty bravado or slick "marketing-speak," it's putting cold hard cash on the table to make a point that Apple is without a doubt confident in their future and future product pipeline.
In addition, Cook also noted that Apple made 21 acquisitions over the last 15 months, many of which were never made public.
At the end of the day, Tim Cook going on the offensive to make their case with Wall Street that Apple will remain a growth story for many years to come gets a two thumbs up. It's just too bad that the article contained a tiny twist putting the level of Apple's coming new category product into doubt.
For now we can reserve our seats for every upcoming special Apple event and enthusiastically await the arrival of this new product that's beginning to be hyped. The only remaining question is whether Apple will deliver an all-new product to market or simply release one that's a "reasonable" evolutionary sort. At this point in time I don't know whether or not to be ticked-off at the Wall Street Journal for trying to purposely downplay Apple's new product entry or applaud them for making us more intrigued than ever before at what could be coming our way.