As Apple broke ground at its newest facility, in Texas, CEO Tim Cook said the company was proud to make its “most powerful computer ever” in the U.S., and opened up about having the president’s ear and navigating business in China amid political tripwires and an ongoing trade war.
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Cook said he’s “proud” to build the new MacPro in America at the highly anticipated new Austin campus, though he admitted it’s unlikely iPhones ever will be produced in the U.S.
“We are really proud to make the MacPro here — this computer is our most powerful computer we’ve ever made, by far,” Cook said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Rebecca Jarvis on Wednesday. “It performs over 50 trillion tasks per second. I mean, this is just mind-blowing.”
The computers will be designed in California.
Apple just broke ground on its $1 billion campus in Austin. The facility is expected to open in 2022 with about 5,000 employees, but it will have the capacity for about 15,000.
President Donald Trump flew to Austin Wednesday to visit the new facility.
“I don’t believe in having people talk on my behalf,” Cook said of his conversations with the president. “I don’t believe in lobbyists. I believe in direct conversation. I strongly believe in engagement. I hate polarization. I despise it.”
When asked why he still builds the iPhone in China, Cook said, “The way I think about it is, the iPhone is made everywhere.”
“If you look at the glass of the iPhone, which everybody touches all day long, that glass is made in Kentucky. If you were to take apart the iPhone you would see many of the silicone components that are made in the United States as well,” he added. “The iPhone is the product of a global supply chain.”
Ultimately, however, they’re assembled in China, and, Cook said, assembling them in the U.S. is not “on the horizon.”
Cook on business in China
China is not just where the company produces its iPhones, it’s a very lucrative market for the Cupertino, California-based tech company.
The Apple chief said that he doesn’t want to “speculate” on how the next round of China tariffs could raise the price of iPhones.
“I’m hoping that the U.S. and China come to an agreement, and so I don’t even want to go down that road right now,” Cook said. “I’m so convinced that it’s in the best interest of the U.S. and best interest of China, and so if you have two parties where there’s a common best interest there has got to be some kind of path forward here. And I think that will happen.”
China remains one of Apple’s most important markets, with approximately 20% of the company’s sales now coming from China. The National Basketball Association’s recent saga highlighted how the politics of the country, however, have become increasingly difficult to navigate.
Cook said he isn’t concerned over Apple’s relationship with China.
“China really hasn’t pressured us, and so I I don’t envision that,” he added.
Cook added that “in terms of the Hong Kong situation, I hope and pray for everyone’s safety,” and “more broadly I pray for dialogue, because I think that good people coming together can decide ways forward.”
Though Apple has come under fire for removing an app used by protesters in Hong Kong, Cook reiterated that Apple acts the same in China as it does in the U.S. and the EU, and won’t bow to government pressure.
Cook said they have never been asked in China by authorities to unlock an iPhone, but added, referring to the U.S., “I have here.”
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“And we stood up against that, and said we can’t do it,” he added. “Our privacy commitment is a worldwide one.”
“In the specific app in Hong Kong, we made the decision unilaterally,” he said. “We made it for safety, and I recognize that somebody can say that is the wrong decision and so forth. We obviously get second guessed a lot when you make tough decisions on apps to be on versus off, but we made it for safety.”
‘A lot of interesting small things’
Back stateside, as impeachment hearings cast uncertainty, Cook said he’s focused on “policies and not politics” has “full faith” in the American system.
“No matter who is in White House, the things I’m focused on are going to be the same,” he said.
One of those focuses is DACA recipients. Cook took a rare public stand in October, on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“We have 450 folks in Apple, employed at Apple, who are employed on DACA,” he said. “I want those folks protected. Not just the 450 but the broader DACA people in America.”
As for the company’s future acquisitions, Cook said, “I don’t have my eye on anything big. I have my eye on a lot of interesting small things.”
“We are investing a lot in this country — you saw the site earlier — we are putting another billion here,” he said. “We acquire things when they make sense, but we never acquire for size and revenue — we acquire for talent and IP, and things that can improve people’s lives.”
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